THE TIMING of Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake’s intervention on the One Yorkshire devolution debate could not be more unhelpful.
Even though North Yorkshire council leaders have backed a countywide approach which has been endorsed by every town hall except Sheffield and Rotherham, Mr Hollinrake appears to be attempting to break this unanimity by reiterating his desire for a series of bespoke deals.
By doing so, Mr Hollinrake is in danger of creating an unfortunate and unfavourable impression that he has become an agent of Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse Minister, who appears to be intent on blocking a Yorkshire-wide deal despite Cabinet-level ministers being more than amenable to the concept.
As North Yorkshire leaders meet today as a precursor to crucial talks next week with all 18 pro-devolution councils to discuss the powers that they would like from the Government, it would have been more helpful if the Tory backbencher had focused his efforts on ensuring that a structure is agreed which recognises the importance of the rural economy. After all, many of the challenges facing countryside communities, like economic growth and transport, are shared by the county’s urban heartlands and talks are already taking place to address this.
Given how Mr Hollinrake’s county colleagues on the Tory backbenches have not exactly been holding Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to account over the many failings on the region’s railways, this intervention appears to highlight, once again, a growing divide between local Conservative MPs – and the electorate.