EVEN though Yorkshire’s political leaders have made significant progress in recent weeks in their attempt to resolve the region’s devolution deadlock, this county’s loss of influence in the interim was laid bare when Brexit Secretary David Davis met metro-mayors – in York of all places – to discuss myriad issues pertaining to the UK’s departure from the European Union.
In an embarrassing irony that must make this region’s decision-makers and power-brokers think again about their various differences, this county – the biggest in the country and more than comparable to each of the devolved nations – was effectively represented by former Labour minister Andy Burnham in his new role as the elected mayor of Greater Manchester.
Yes, a politician from the other side of the Pennines effectively speaking for this county at one of the few opportunities where Mr Davis, who was born in York, has made himself available to regional leaders to discuss Brexit. To be fair to Mr Burnham and his colleagues, they did a good job and said that the whole of the North, including Yorkshire, needed to be represented in future talks.
They also talked about the repatriation of policy-making powers from Yorkshire to the regions – powers that, presumably, will be denied to this county if attempts to coalesce around the One Yorkshire devolution blueprint do not come to pass.
However, this county deserves better from this. Families and businesses alike want Mr Davis, one of the few senior politicians to have experienced hardship, to reassure them about Brexit. Equally, it’s important that the specific needs of farmers and food producers, so crucial to this county, are highlighted. And, while agriculture is a concern for all, it’s not Mr Burnham’s top priority in the North-West, hence the need for Yorkshire to get its act together, and as rival regions have already done to good effect.