Yet, while Mr Sunak, the MP for Richmond, has been long exercised by the Northern Powerhouse, and the need to convert a political slogan into decisive policy action, such an announcement will carry little consequence if it’s not underpinned by a much more substantive devolution policy.
After all, the reason why this country, one of the world’s richest, is also one of the most divided, both socially and economically, is because successive governments, Tory and Labour, regarded the North as an after-thought – and they got away with it.
And it is these decades of tokenism which left this area at such a disadvantage when the Covid pandemic first struck – and so anxious that Mr Sunak now empowers the regions, and spells out what the Government means by ‘levelling up’, before the North-South divide widens still further.
Devolution should be about Ministers transferring real policy powers, plus the necessary pounds and pence, from London to counties like Yorkshire so local leaders can begin to build a 21st century business infrastructure; narrow some of the health inequalities that are such a drain on the economy and provide a world-class education.
It is about appreciating that Yorkshire and the North are the answer, not the problem, if Great Britain plc is to emerge from the recession as a fairer, more dynamic and more successful country. Moving Treasury civil servants from London will signal a start – but Mr Sunak will have to go further, and faster, if this is to be a Budget that defines the North’s future.
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