With the Government’s current handling of Brexit satisfying almost no-one – including vast swathes of Theresa May’s own party – calls for the North to be given additional powers to set its own direction after the UK departs the European Union come at an apposite moment.
The inaugural meeting of the Convention of the North yesterday saw Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, argue that a bold new approach is needed, with fundamental and wide-ranging powers transferred to the region so it is no longer dependent on central government to step in and solve its problems.
The idea deserves serious consideration – the chaos on the region’s railways this year has been the perfect example of where local leaders have had their hands tied by a lack of influence, while those in power in London have failed in their response.
It will of course be incumbent upon northern leaders to demonstrate that they would be able to steer clear of the sort of squabbling that has paralysed central Government on the issue of Brexit, but the very organising of the first Convention of the North, in which political and business leaders joined representatives from unions, community groups and other organisations, is a positive signal of intent.
But Mr Forbes’s call also highlights, yet again, the importance of sealing a meaningful One Yorkshire devolution deal as soon as possible to give the county greater sway on the decisions that affect the lives and finances of ordinary residents.
Greater Manchester and the Tees Valley are already benefiting from their own powers, extra funding and mayoral representation, while detailed plans are now in train for a similar agreement for a ‘North of Tyne’ authority serving Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside.
Yorkshire must not miss out any longer, as is currently the case.