YP Comment: MPs back May’s call for election - Northern Powerhouse concerns

George Osborne, who championed the Northern Powerhouse, is stepping down as an MP. (YPN).
George Osborne, who championed the Northern Powerhouse, is stepping down as an MP. (YPN).
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If a week is a long time in politics, as Harold Wilson famously said, a year must seem like an eternity. Twelve months ago David Cameron and George Osborne were the country’s chief political powerbrokers and pivotal figures in the Remain campaign.

Mr Cameron gambled on silencing the vociferous Eurosceptics within his party by holding a referendum on Britain’s EU membership – a move that failed spectacularly. The former Prime Minister stepped down and now George Osborne has said he is quitting as an MP “for now”, following Theresa May’s unexpected decision to call a snap general election – a move that was overwhelmingly approved by MPs, 522 to 13, in a House of Commons vote.

Many Yorkshire voters will be glad to see the back of the former chancellor. However, for all his faults, the Tatton MP did at least recognise the importance of the North of England in helping to rebalance the economy.

Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron were key figures in driving the Northern Powerhouse agenda and both have now left the political stage, at least for the time being.

The former chancellor is the man credited with coining the phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and was its biggest champion, yet not only is he no longer in power he’s now editing a London newspaper and in seven weeks time won’t even be in Parliament.

So where does this leave the Northern Powerhouse? Mrs May’s reluctance to discuss the matter and the fact she hasn’t visited Yorkshire since last July to listen to the region’s views, raises concerns that it will become little more than an election footnote during the next seven weeks.

The Prime Minister defended her decision not to take part in a leaders’ debate on TV saying she preferred “to get out and about and meet voters”.

She would do well to make Yorkshire her first port of call.

Out of fashion? Burberry’s big Brexit question

Whatever the outcome of June’s snap election, the concerning situation developing around ongoing delays to Burberry’s planned new Leeds factory shows exactly why the country needs decisive leadership once Brexit negotiations commence in earnest.

The fashion retailer has confirmed its proposals to open a new £50m manufacturing and weaving facility employing 1,000 people in Leeds remain on hold in light of the Brexit vote, despite work being originally due to start on its construction last year.

Concerningly, chief finance officer Julie Brown says that the company wants to understand how export tariffs from the UK will work once the country leaves the single market - an issue unlikely to be resolved for at least a couple of years as the complex EU departure negotiations take place.

The question marks over Burberry’s plans for Leeds do not affect that company alone. Its new facility is designed to be a pivotal cornerstone of the vital South Bank regeneration scheme and a flag-bearer for the wider £350m project designed to support thousands of jobs and bring millions of pounds into the city’s economy.

When the Burberry facility was announced, Halifax-born chief executive Christopher Bailey said the Leeds site would allow the company to remain loyal to its Yorkshire heritage. But with Mr Bailey due to be replaced as chief executive this summer, the fear is the company may decide its future is better with a base inside the EU.

Businesses need clarity as soon as possible on future trading arrangements so vital decisions like this which affect real lives and jobs can be made.

Golden girl Jess - Sheffield Olympian honoured

She was a superstar of track and field and Sheffield’s golden girl, Jessica Ennis-Hill, basked in the spotlight once again yesterday as she was made a dame at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace for her services to athletics.

It was a proud moment for the 31-year-old, who won heptathlon gold at the London 2012 Olympics and silver four years later in Rio.

Jess not only commanded the respect of her rivals, but she sought to uphold the integrity of athletics, became a role model for women in sport and inspired a generation with her cheery demeanour, and will to win, after claiming a second world title in 2015 just a year after giving birth to her son Reggie.

She was the embodiment of Sheffield steel which she displayed to the world on the greatest sporting stage of all and her triumphant involvement on ‘Super Saturday’ when she, along with Sir Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford, all won gold, framed her name in the annals of British sport forever.