Dan Jarvis: Metro mayors are a 'vital voice' in Gordon Brown's commission to fix 'broken democracy'

A Labour review led by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to form future policy on devolution will take into account the regional inequalities faced across the UK as well as those between nations, a metro mayor has revealed.

South Yorkshire mayor and Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis met with Mr Brown yesterday and said the commission the veteran politician is heading up is a step in the right direction to “reform our broken democracy”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced the formation of the commission in December with a bid to Scottish voters, where he said the party wanted to deliver “real and lasting economic and political devolution across our towns, communities and to people across the country”.

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But as well as a focus on devolution to nations, the party is also hoping to set out its approach to devolution within England too.

Barnsley Central MP and South Yorkshire metro mayor Dan Jarvis. Photo: JPI Media

Mr Jarvis said this made sense, when Yorkshire had a larger population than Scotland, so could not be ignored.

And he said: “It was quite a significant gathering, the coming together of a coalition that seeks to bring people together from not just England and Scotland, but also more widely.”

Mr Jarvis, said those at the meeting - including Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham and West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Susan Hinchcliffe - had stressed how the need for reform was “not just about politics, it’s about prosperity”.

And he said: “The UK is more regionally unequal than any other comparable country, and the deprivation and economic pressure so many people are facing have been made much worse by the disruption of Covid.

“Experience has repeatedly shown that we will never be able to address these deep-seated challenges with edicts from Whitehall: it needs long-term investment adapted to local needs and based on local experience and understanding. Our recovery must not only draw on the great reserve of solidarity that exists across our community of nations and regions, it must also empower them.”

The commission comes amid renewed pressure for a second independence referendum for Scotland, something both Labour and the Conservatives have set themselves against.

But Mr Jarvis said: “There was strong agreement on the urgent need for positive change cuts across the whole of the UK.

“The Covid crisis has brought into stark relief just how dysfunctional our current political structures are, and how damaging the real-world consequences can be. We urgently need a national conversation about how we build a better democracy and a better Britain – and this commission is a critical step on that journey.

“We talked about the vital voice that metro mayors, as English regional leaders, represented in that process.”