Mr Shapps rightly welcomes the relocation of civil servants to cities like Leeds before suggesting it is “tangible evidence that government is no longer a London-centric organisation”.
Effectively this is an admission that the capital has wielded undue influence – one reason why social and economic inequalities across Britain are so profound.
In a thought-provoking intervention, Mr Shapps goes on to explain how Ministers can expect to spend more time based at regional hubs after Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson recently spent a successful week working from the DfT’s Leeds office.
Again, this is a positive step. But this approach will be derided as gesture politics if Yorkshire and the North does not receive the investment that it needs from Whitehall to increase productivity and transform the wider economy here.
And the more observant will note the Minister’s phraseology when he cites “the Government’s determination to bring HS2 trains to Leeds”.
This is not the same as the eastern leg of HS2 being built in full, as repeatedly promised by Ministers like Mr Shapps, before this plan was effectively put on long-term hold by the Integrated Rail Plan.
Yet, while the IRP makes available £96bn of funding for the railways, there’s still a deficit of trust that needs to be overcome before this newspaper no longer feels duty-bound to refer to the ‘London Government’ in these columns.
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