Tom Richmond: Northern voices hold key to achieving Theresa May’s vision

Cabinet members attending Theresa May's first cabinet meeting. (PA).
Cabinet members attending Theresa May's first cabinet meeting. (PA).
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FROM a Northern perspective, the political balance of power is little changed after Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as Prime Minister.

There is still only one Cabinet-rank Minister from the North of England – Haltemprice and Howden’s David Davis in place of George Osborne, the outgoing Chancellor and MP for the Cheshire seat of Tatton. Mr Davis’s political comeback – he’s now got to put his Eurosceptic principles to the test and deliver Brexit – also means a Yorkshire presence around the Cabinet table.

After all, Mr Cameron’s post-2015 administration was bereft of a white rose presence at the top table of politics.

Yet, while Mrs May’s 27-strong team includes one Northern MP and a smattering of Ministers from the Midlands to counter a dominant Home Counties presence, I actually think the new PM is likely to be far more committed to these parts than her gimmick-obsessed predecessor.

The reason is this. Mrs May cut her political teeth when she was a distant second to Labour’s Hilary Armstrong when the two women fought the North West Durham seat in the 1992 election.

This sobering experience explains, I believe, her determination to place social reform at the forefront of her administration – she only won election to Parliament five years later in the safe Tory seat of Maidenhead.

If the new PM continues to cast her mind back a quarter of a century, and apply her Durham experience to each and every social policy reform, then Yorkshire, too, can only benefit from this fresh start.

It does not end here. One can assume that Mr Davis will put his Yorkshire political and business experience to good use when he determines the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Likewise immigration, the policy brief handed to Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill, who has to strike a balance between those in his constituency who view migrant labour as an economic asset – and those who take a contrary view. This Yorkshire input can only be beneficial.

And the same with education, now the responsibility of Rotherham-born Justine Greening who speaks with pride of her comprehensive education in South Yorkshire and the importance of inspirational teachers.

What a breath of fresh air – a Minister who not only appreciates the teaching profession but also the importance of equipping children with world-class skills so they can prosper in Brexit Britain.

With Derbyshire’s Patrick McLoughlin, a former miner, the new Tory chairman, there’s no reason why the North cannot prosper under the new regime. What it requires, however, is Ministers making sure their actions speak louder than words when it comes to building Theresa May’s promised government for all and not the privileged few.

The new PM has made a reassuring start and has a great opportunity to deliver lasting change for the North, even in these uncertain times. She must seize the chance.

THERESA May’s decision to merge the business and energy departments spells bad news for North Yorkshire’s fracking opponents. As the PM was announcing her Whitehall shake-up, leadership rival Andrea Leadsom – the outgoing Energy Minister – was telling Parliament of a report, by accountants Ernst & Young, which revealed that a successful UK shale industry might need £2bn of steel.

What will come first – the natural environment, now Mrs Leadsom’s brief as Environment Secretary – or a chance to save one of Britain’s great industries?

I’M not surprised there was a Ministerial resignation over the appointment of Liz Truss – the aforementioned Mrs Leadsom’s predecessor at Defra – as Justice Secretary. Apart from a brief stint on the justice select committee, she has no experience – from what I can gather – of law. Can you imagine her briefing the Cabinet on the legality of a future war?

Given how Ms Truss betrayed Yorkshire’s flooding victims, I’m flabbergasted she’s still in the Cabinet. Like you, I would like to know how – and why? It can’t be tokenism, given that the 28 female ministers appointed by Mrs May are two less than the number who served in David Cameron’s last administration.

TALKING of women in politics, I’m afraid Bridlington-born Angela Eagle – Labour’s ditherer-in-chief – did her cause no good whatsoever with her stop-start-stop campaign to unseat Jeremy Corbyn.

From what I could gather, Ms Eagle simply thought she was entitled to the job because she was a woman. I’m just surprised so many Labour MPs from Yorkshire were so quick to endorse her doomed candidacy – all I can conclude is that media reports of the party’s continuing turmoil are no exaggeration.

LABOUR’S only consolation is that the Republican party in America is in even greater trouble following this week’s convention which was overshadowed by a plagiarism scandal which overwhelmed Donald Trump’s wife Melania.

At least British politics is spared running commentaries from the respective partners of Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May – for now.

Long may this be so.

JUST back from Scotland, I couldn’t help notice the amount of litter blighting Yorkshire’s roads by comparison.

Why is this? I can only think of three plausible reasons – council cuts, more litter bins at roadside laybys in Scotland or greater civic pride. What do you think – and what can, and should, be done to make Yorkshire the cleanest part of Britain when it comes to litter?

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk