Devolution: All eyes on Commons debate but what matters is what happens here in Yorkshire

KEIGHLEY MP John Grogan's Commons debate on Yorkshire devolution tonight is an important moment.

John Grogan MP.

Following the collapse of the Sheffield City Region deal it is right that MPs get the chance to debate this issue in public and the Government is forced to defend its position.

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However the key to ending the Yorkshire devolution wrangle does not lie in Westminster but much closer to home.

It was no small achievement to see 17 out of 20 council leaders back the One Yorkshire proposal - to elect a single mayor for the whole region - over the summer. Leaving the door open for Rotherham and Sheffield to move forward with their own, scaled-down, version of the Sheffield City Region deal, was also a sensible step.

The Government was always going to resist the One Yorkshire idea. Having repeatedly called for the Sheffield City Region deal to go ahead and for the rest of Yorkshire to find a way forward it was politically impossible for ministers to do anything else.

And tonight I fully expected the Government to maintain its position. It will insist next year's planned Sheffield City Region mayoral election must go ahead - despite Doncaster and Barnsley having withdrawn their support - and reject the case for One Yorkshire.

What matters is how council leaders in Yorkshire respond.

The Government is testing the mettle of the so-called 'coalition of the willing' behind One Yorkshire and there have been signs of wavering in recent weeks.

Only by remaining united and continuing to press the case can One Yorkshire have a future.

Some Conservative leaders signed up to One Yorkshire have responded to the Government's obstinacy by talking up the prospects of a Greater Yorkshire deal - covering all of Yorkshire except Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley.

But even if they supported the idea themselves (and many dismiss it as 'Lesser Yorkshire'), Labour leaders would struggle to get the Greater Yorkshire proposal through their groups.

And before anyone plays the politics card, let's not forget the plan for a Leeds City Region deal was blocked by the Government to satisfy the objections of Conservative MPs.

Unless a way can be found to make Greater Yorkshire or Leeds City Region more palatable to Labour and Conservatives respectively, One Yorkshire offers the only way forward and that requires cross-party unity and determination.

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