If you look through the political fog over Brexit, and Mrs May’s struggles, you will see that devolution has a new lease of life. Devo 2.0 is definitely not dead.
When it comes to the Budget, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry does have some foundation to claim it was good for devolution. There was a deal for the North of the Tyne and a second one for West Midlands. There was money too, albeit not enough, transport funding for combined authorities and for the Tyne and Wear Metro. Greg Clark’s Industrial Strategy White Paper will let all the Mayors get their hands on devising their own strategies. All good news!
Then there is the quieter progress that is being made by putting Transport for the North on a statutory footing; the laying of the secondary legislation to permit bus re-regulation; and preparations within Whitehall for the soon to be published framework for English devolution.
Perhaps the most significant recent development is the launch of the Northern Powerhouse APPG. This is a welcome development by all accounts and launch event was ram jammed with MPs, Peers, Council leaders and Metro Mayors, from across the political and geographic spectrum queuing to speak. If politicians – and business and civil society leaders work together – the drive towards devolution will not only continue but gather pace.
Already the London and Greater Manchester APPGs have met to combine forces and discuss future devolution. Demands for a ‘devolution solution’ in Yorkshire are getting a head of steam and there are plans to set up an APPG for the East of England. When it comes to English devolution we have now passed the tipping point. There is no turning back – only forwards toward ultimately more powers, more resources and a greater role in the governance of the UK. So, there’s a lot going on and now is time to get on board Devo 2.0 and get your voice heard.