YP Comment: A mind-boggling leadership void - who will stand up for North?

IT does not bode well. Not only was the hitherto unknown Stephen Crabb very late for the launch of his own Tory leadership campaign, but he began his pitch for power by saying that the next Prime Minister will be confronted by 'a set of problems of almost mind-boggling complexity'.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb (right) and Business Secretary Sajid Javid at the RSA in London where Mr Crabb launched his campaign to be leader of the Conservative party following last week's resignation of the Prime Minister after the EU referendum.

At least this proud working class son of Wales, who was only elevated to the post of Work and Pensions Secretary three months ago, was candid about the size of the job facing David Cameron’s successor. Yet his words hardly smack of confidence in his own abilities.

Not only are voters set to pay a heavy short-term price for Britain’s exit from the European Union – it is difficult, at this febrile time, to ascertain the value of any long-term gains that might be derived in time – but they are bewildered by the collapse in political leadership and the economic ramifications.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This was self-evident when Mr Cameron briefed Parliament on the outcome of Tuesday’s summit of European leaders before being summarily dismissed. Even though issues like the invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins the process of Britain extricating itself from the EU, were being discussed, the House of Commons was barely one third full.

Minutes earlier, the green benches were virtually packed as the Prime Minister turned on Jeremy Corbyn and told the enfeebled Labour leader: “For heaven’s sake man, go.” It spoke volumes that half-hearted Opposition cheers appeared to be louder than the murmurings from bewildered Tory MPs who have witnessed the Government’s implosion in just a week while Labour’s chaos continued when Pat Glass resigned less than 48 hours after being made Shadow Education Secretary.

Though Mr Crabb’s humble upbringing stands him apart from his potential rivals, his decision to align himself to Sajid Javid does show very questionable judgment – the Business Secretary has not done enough to help the crisis-hit steel industry – and prompted many to ask whether this is the right time to entrust the country to a novice.

That said, his main rivals have still to reveal their hands. Home Secretary Theresa May needs to show how her decision to back EU membership can be reconciled with her party’s Brexiteers while Boris Johnson’s virtual silence since the referendum, apart from his weekly newspaper column which distanced himself from promises made in the heat of battle, is a dereliction of duty. What is the Leave campaign’s plan of action for Brexit Britain and don’t the public, one week on from such a momentous vote, have a right to know?

As for Labour, Angela Eagle’s tears, after resigning as Shadow Business Secretary to presumably launch a leadership challenge to Mr Corbyn, are unbecoming – Margaret Thatcher would almost certainly have not shown any such weakness in times of strife.

No wonder the country despairs. Not only with its out-of-their-depth politicians, and their apparent inability to work together, but their continuing failure to accept that the North will be intrinsic to their success or otherwise.

If they had recognised the scale of disquiet in Yorkshire about the EU, and how families badly hit by the last recession were not feeling the benefits of globalisation, they might not be facing a crisis of this magnitude – a crisis which will only see the divide between society’s ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ widen to even more dangerous levels unless a generation of One Nation leaders emerge who can govern for all. So far no one has proved that they have Yorkshire’s best interests at heart – the test that this newspaper will apply to each prospective leader of the Tory and Labour parties. Just about the only crumb of comfort is that Jeremy Corbyn will not be entrusted with the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Helipad Heroes – The Big Society is alive and well

MORE than 1.8 million residents will feel safer thanks to a new £2m helipad at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital finally becoming operational following a successful fundraising appeal.

The benefits are two-fold. First, it means patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses can be transferred into the world class care of the hospital’s A&E department even more swiftly – every minute counts in such medical emergencies.

Second, it shows what is possible when businesses and communities pull together to support the NHS like this. Proof positive that the so-called Big Society, championed by David Cameron in his political youth before he distanced himself from the concept, is alive and well, it is also vital that fundraisers – and their supporters – do not lose faith. If it was not for their endeavours, it is doubtful that the NHS would be able to afford schemes like this helipad and its potentially priceless benefits.