LIKE Brexit, and the need to prepare for all eventualities, the same equally applies to that other great imponderable of these times which is proving equally tortuous – Yorkshire devolution.
This newspaper still maintains that the best outcome for this region is the One Yorkshire deal – and this is one of the options now being put to voters in Barnsley and Doncaster on a mini-referendum.
Yet, given the refusal of senior Ministers, and others, to break away from the city-region model and pave the way for the most radical devolution deal of all, the current deadlock cannot persist – this county is already losing political and economic ground to areas which have embraced metro-mayors and this was self-evident in the Budget.
In this spirit, Northern Powerhouse architect Jim O’Neill – a much-respected Minister before his position was made untenable by Theresa May’s aides – proposes a cabinet of mayors who represent each area of Yorkshire and who could co-ordinate countywide policies such as skills, transport and health.
The top economist believes it would satisfy those who prefer city-regions and those who believe the whole of Yorkshire should pull together to maximise the area’s strengths. Yet, just as time is running out for the Prime Minister to broker a Brexit breakthrough, residents have every right to expect their politicians to reach a consensus in the near future – investment opportunities and jobs will be on the line if they do not. If they can’t, perhaps the options should be put to the public – the most important people of all – in a countywide vote.
In doing so, proponents need to remember that Yorkshire residents are unlikely to take kindly to additional tiers of bureacuracy. Their wish remains the same – better and more effective governance – and bringing this about has never been more pressing.