YORKSHIRe’S success in the next decade could hinge on a key decision that the Treasury is due to take early in the New Year.
This follows reports that the Government is preparing to rip up the longlasting spending rules in order to look more favourably at the economic interests of the North and Midlands. And, if it comes off, it is significant for three reasons.
First, it is belated recognition that the so-called ‘Green Book’ has favoured London and the South East in the past – this is borne out by the North-South divide on public spending when it comes, for example, to transport and flood defences.
Second, the move – apparently instigated by Treasury chief secretary Rishi Sunak who is MP for Richmond – indicates that the Government acknowledges these ‘infrastructure injustices’ and respects the persuasiveness of the arguments put forward by politicians here.
Finally, it is another indication that Boris Johnson does intend to lead a One Nation government which genuinely wants to help the whole country to fulfil its potential. After all, his election win owed as much to the desire of people to be rewarded for their aspiration as it did to deep disquiet about Labour’s economic illiteracy.
Yet the Prime Minister’s dilemma is this as he responds to the public pressure generated by the Power Up The North campaign that The Yorkshire Post, and more than 30 newspapers, launched this summer.
It will take years, possibly a decade, for the change in spending rules to filter through to bricks on the ground or the construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail – time Mr Johnson does not have when so many commuters now face daily disarray on the trains.
How the Government responds to this shambles, and then its reconfiguration of the public finances, will be an early indication of what this region can expect over the next decade and beyond.