Theresa May chooses her words carefully when pressed on what her commitments to Yorkshire will be if the Conservatives win the election, which is both cause for concern and a matter of cautious optimism.
Cause for concern because her enthusiasm for HS3, the fast trans-Pennine link that is vital to our region’s economy and making the Northern Powerhouse a reality, appears to be lukewarm. A cause for cautious optimism because her commitment to HS2 is unequivocal, and she is explicit about giving Yorkshire’s farmers the support they deserve post-Brexit with funding that will be a significant improvement on the Common Agricultural Policy.
It is, though, disappointing that the Prime Minister sidestepped the issue of a devolution deal for Yorkshire, which has become bogged down in party political bickering and rivalries. By promising that her Government would intervene to help break the deadlock and broker a deal that would benefit the whole of Yorkshire and enable it to speak with a unified voice, Mrs May would have demonstrated a real commitment to the future of our county. Instead, she has put the ball back into the court of the parties who have so far proved unable to reach a deal that stands up to scrutiny.
It is, perhaps, characteristic of a Prime Minister whose tenure so far has been marked by her cautious approach that Mrs May is wary of grand gestures given the uncertainties that lie ahead as part of the Brexit process.
But in acknowledging the benefits of HS2 to this region, and demonstrating she understands the vital role agriculture plays in the economy, Mrs May shows that she wishes to help Yorkshire and that is a promising basis for persuading her of the merits of HS3 and the need to expedite a devolution deal.
A divided nation - Trump’s first 100 days in office
The United States presidential election contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was arguably the most divisive and grubbiest in living memory, and President Trump’s first three months in office have failed to heal the rifts of a divided nation.
Today marks his 100-day milestone as the most powerful man on earth, though the billionaire businessman could perhaps be given forgiven for not wishing to dwell on what has been a turbulent start to his presidency which, thus far, has been characterised by tirades against the media, a failure to push through healthcare reform and worrying allegations over Russian connections.
When it comes to foreign policy the White House’s new incumbent thankfully appears to place a greater premium on the wisdom of his military advisers rather than his campaign rhetoric. Even so he remains wildly unpredictable, another ‘known unknown’ to paraphrase former US secretary of state Donald Rumsfeld.
He showed his mettle by ordering a lethal cruise missile strike against the Syrian air base suspected of being used to launch a devastating nerve gas attack, and has taken a stern approach to North Korea’s nuclear provocations. It remains to be seen whether this is a strength or weakness, though it is hardly conducive to long-term stability in the world.
In his inaugural speech, the 45th US president talked of a ‘new national pride’ that would ‘heal our divisions’. However, the country is no less polarised and President Trump remains a deeply divisive figure liked and loathed in equal measure. We must hope that he fares better during the remainder of his term in office.
Tour de Yorkshire celebrated
IT is a measure of how enthusiastically and wholeheartedly our county has embraced the Tour de Yorkshire that an event only in its third year is already welcomed as a valued and much-loved friend.
That love was much in evidence as the three-day cycling extravaganza got under way yesterday, apparent in the huge crowds that turned out to cheer. The numbers lining the route will surely only increase today and tomorrow.
Every cheer is deserved. The Tour de Yorkshire is a scintillating event, an unrivalled international showcase for the county on the world stage, bringing with it massively valuable exposure and a major boost to an already thriving tourism economy.
But it is equally valuable in another way too – as a great unifying force for the people of our county, who gather together in celebration not just of the sporting excellence of the elite cyclists taking part, but of Yorkshire itself.