EVEN by this Government’s standards, the rank hypocrisy exemplified by Treasury minister Robert Jenrick take some beating after he was questioned about the merits of the One Yorkshire devolution deal.
He lauded the fact the fact that 200,000 more people are in work here compared to 2010 – and that the county is out-performing other areas – before having the temerity to question whether Yorkshire is “a functioning economic geography”.
By responding to Keighley MP John Grogan like this, Mr Jenrick’s contempt exemplified the type of short-sightedness that this region has become accustomed to from the incompetence of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to the indifference of James Brokenshire who holds the local government brief.
Not only is devolution supposed to be about the empowerment of local communities rather than Whitehall imposing its will, but the Minister finds himself at odds with the 18 council leaders from this county – plus Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis – who back One Yorkshire.
And Mr Jenrick’s obfuscation disregards a major piece of research which suggests that devolution could be worth up to £30bn a year to the region’s economy if leaders, and businesses, here took charge of the economic growth and skills agenda.
Rather than adopting Theresa May’s Brexit tactics and playing for time by coming up with reasons for not backing devolution in a county which already has an identity like no other, and which believes its best days are to come if councils and city-regions combine their expertise rather than compete against each for funding, Mr Jenrick, the Newark MP, should be getting behind One Yorkshire.
If this county had received fairer funding in the past over infrastructure and transport investment, its status as “a functioning economic geography” would be in even less doubt.