SAJID JAVID is damned by his own words as he pours cold scorn on Yorkshire’s efforts to finalise a landmark devolution deal that has the potential to be truly transformative. Dismissive of concerted efforts here to find common ground, the Communities Secretary then has the ill-advised temerity to say there needs to be “a bottom up approach”.
Just like his equally arrogant Cabinet colleague Chris Grayling who told the North last month to sort out its own transport difficulties, Mr Javid’s rank hypocrisy is another poor reflection of this Government’s strained relationship with Yorkshire. He would be advised to think again.
Having been repeatedly challenged by Ministers to come up with a credible plan, this region’s leaders have, in fact, put political differences, and local rivalries, to one side to finalise an ambitious and dynamic plan which would make Yorkshire’s mayor the second most powerful in the country, after London.
Seventeen out of 20 councils have reached an united position – including Barnsley and Doncaster – while a meeting on Monday will examine South Yorkshire’s options.
Those options must begin with all sides acknowledging the quality of the work done by South Yorkshire’s leaders before using this wholly unreasonable salvo from Mr Javid to further galvanise the coming together of the One Yorkshire devolution proposition.
This region deserves better from the Minister. As The Yorkshire Post stated when 17 council leaders signed their unprecedented joint letter to Mr Javid, a thriving Yorkshire economy can only benefit Great Britain as a whole. The pity is that the Communities Secretary seems not to recognise this because he clearly wants devolution on his terms so there’s no threat to his authority – or department. It is a stance that is not sustainable and must, therefore, not deter this region’s leaders from the journey they’ve started.