Yorkshire should be allowed to 'take more control of its own decisions' says Sir Keir Starmer

Yorkshire should be allowed to “take much more control of its own decisions and its own future destiny”, according to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House

Sir Keir called for a plan - taking in infrastructure and resources - which would allow businesses and the public a “chance to go far”.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, the Labour leader explained: “I think, you know, the most important thing for Yorkshire would be a plan for Yorkshire that brought together the infrastructure, the businesses, the resources, the decision making, to actually empower Yorkshire to, you know, take much more control of its own decisions and its own future destiny.

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He added: “If you give people in Yorkshire the chance to go far they certainly will go far”.

His comments come as the long-awaited levelling up white paper has been delayed into next year.

The document is expected to set out how the Government will achieve its flagship manifesto promise of expanding prosperity to all areas of the country.

Speaking at Conservative Party Conference in October, the then-new Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove gave the first clear suggestions of what the pledge may mean.

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He told party members in Manchester: “We want to strengthen local leadership to drive real change. We will raise living standards especially where they are lower. We will improve public services especially where they are weaker.

“And we will give people the resources necessary to enhance the pride they feel in the place they live.”

Sir Keir has said that he would like the White Paper to “set out clearly and in concrete terms what levelling up means for Yorkshire and what is actually going to change.”

He told this newspaper that “ I don’t think that building a few buildings, changing a few roads - important as they are - is anything like enough in order to level up or deal with regional inequalities.

“I think we need a strategy for Yorkshire.”

Sir Keir also suggested that Boris Johnson’s promise to level up is at risk of being a slogan with “nothing there”.

He explained: “There’s still no white paper, no detail, no concrete proposals.

“I’m serious about what a plan would actually look like in relation to Yorkshire, and I have to say, the election was 2019.

“We’re about to go into 2022, and we still haven’t even got a White Paper on what levelling up is.

“We’ve only got two years of this government left. And we haven’t got past the White Paper stage because it keeps being put off

“And I’m afraid my conclusion is that levelling up was yet another slogan of the Prime Minister, but when you look behind the slogan, there’s nothing there.”

A spokesman for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities said: “The Levelling Up White Paper will set out the government’s plan for levelling up across the UK by spreading opportunity, empowering local leaders and improving public services.

"This work has already begun: in 2020, we finalised a devolution deal with South Yorkshire, unlocking £900 million of additional investment funding, and agreed a devolution deal with West Yorkshire which will provide £1.1 billion, as well as devolving significant new decision-making powers on transport, housing, planning, education and skills.”