Guarantees wanted over the future of European millions

Ed CoxEd Cox
Ed Cox
COUNCIL leaders in Yorkshire are expected to move quickly to seek assurances from the Government in key areas in the wake of the Brexit vote.

A major priority will be to secure guarantees over the £600m of EU funding the region is due to receive to help grow Yorkshire’s economy between now and 2020.

The money became a significant issue in the campaign as concerns were expressed about the possible impact of Brexit on areas like Yorkshire, which have historically been major recipients of EU cash.

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In a key moment of the campaign, Vote Leave pledged that in the event of an out vote, money saved from Britain’s EU ‘membership fee’ would be used to fill the gap.

However, with Vote Leave being a cross-party campaign organisation rather than the Government, it is not clear what weight that guarantee will carry.

Council leaders in the region are also expected to press the case for accelerated moves towards handing more powers into local control.

They are likely to seek reassurances that leaving the EU will not be a cover for concentrating decision-making in London.

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Concern has already been expressed that the prospect of David Cameron’s departure from Downing St could put current devolution discussions in doubt.

Ed Cox, director of the IPPR North thinktank, said: “The people have spoken, but in the North they have shouted. The signs of malaise with the Westminster elite have been there for some time.

“Whatever you believe about the Northern Powerhouse, few can deny that our trading relationships with our (soon to be former) EU partners matter much more to northern businesses than they do to the City of London.

“We need to define the kind of economy we want to become. Our obsession with the big cities and aggregate growth must take a new turn and wake up to the cries of those on the margins who are busy manufacturing the goods we will now struggle harder to sell overseas.”

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He added: “Politically, we should let devolution rip. Both major political parties must reinvent themselves from the bottom up with more plural local political systems that bring people closer to power.”