EVEN THOUGH a momentous week in politics ends as it began with no agreement over Brexit – and Theresa May’s government having to face up to the realisation that Britain won’t now be leaving the European Union on March 29 as intended – the vacuum extends to virtually all other policies.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement was just a holding plan. It did nothing to bring forward action on social care. And while his commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail is now on the record, it is only one element of a much wider strategy intended to transform the region’s fortunes.
Allied to this is the One Yorkshire devolution deal which has the potential, according to independent research, to generate an extra £30bn a year for the economy – an opportunity that the country can’t afford to squander at a time of such uncertainty.
What is, therefore, inexcusable is the reluctance of two Government departments to reveal the reasons for their continuing hostility to One Yorkshire – and the analysis that was apparently undertaken before they reached this decision.
Its refusal to do so not only suggests that the Government only wants devolution on its terms – the precise opposite of the spirit of the policy – but that key Ministers and officials have been allowed to thwart this region’s ambitions. And the ramifications do not end here. This lack of openness only exacerbates mistrust when national leaders should be replicating the unity of purpose being shown by business, political and civic leaders here.