THERESA MAY can consider herself fortunate that she made it to North East Lincolnshire to deliver her keynote Brexit speech – it appears some members of the national media travelling from London had a more challenging train journey.
Yet, while too many at Westminster still believe that politics begins and ends with Brexit, the reality is very different in regions like Yorkshire where issues like social care, schools, crime and transport resonate.
And while next week’s Parliamentary votes on Brexit are very unlikely to unite the country, it is a source of deep regret that most other matters have been marginalised since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016.
Though the Brexit outcome will, for many, be the defining issue when the next election comes, Mrs May learned to her cost in 2017 that domestic issues do also matter and Chris Grayling’s monumental mishandling of transport policy is a case in point.
Instead of making it easy for travellers to claim recompense for last year’s timetable chaos, the process became so convoluted that commuters did not claim redress in anticipated numbers.
The consequence is failed operators like Northern and TransPennine Express effectively having £3.5m to spend on promotional schemes. Yet the irony is that the performance of their trains is still woefully inadequate – hardly the best advertisement – and that previously promised improvements to commuter services in and out of Leeds are having to be put on hold for at least two years because of delays building a new platform to accommodate longer trains.
It is further reason for Transport for the North being given the necessary financial and policy-making powers so this region can take back control of the railways from a London-centric political establishment which clearly doesn’t spend enough time in the real world.