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English regional devolution can undermine independence drive, says Conservative mayor

15 Sep 2021 2 minutes Read
Ben Houchen picture by the Conservative Party

English regional devolution can be a means of undermining national independence movements within the UK, according to a Conservative mayor.

Ben Houchen, the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley, said that devolution within England could counterbalance rising nationalist voices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“You’ve got people like Nicola Sturgeon who represent people of Scotland and therefore give themselves a platform that they are the only voice outside of Westminster that has an alternative viewpoint,” he told House.

“But [with metro mayors] you create, not necessarily counter-voices that are supportive of the government, as obviously Andy Burnham is not supportive of the government, but a counter to this very hardline SNP Scottish independence model.”

Dan Jarvis, The Labour mayor of South Yorkshire, also said that he saw that English devolution had an important part to play in maintaining the union.

“Mayors have a vital role to play in renewing our democracy, addressing the disillusionment that so many people have with our politics,” he said. “There’s a fragility to the United Kingdom at the moment, there are all sorts of pressures to pull the UK apart.

“Devolution and the work of English mayors in terms of strengthening our economy and strengthening our relationship with the rest of the country have a really important role to play.”

‘Access’

However, he and Labour’s Steve Rotheram in Liverpool City Region were frustrated at what they saw as the greater access to the UK Government enjoyed by Conservative mayors.

“I’m not necessarily going to have a big moan that there’s favouritism towards the Tory areas,” Steve Rotheram said. “What I do have a moan about is the government pretending there’s not favouritism towards Tory areas.”

Ben Houchen conceded that this way the case but put in down to party politics.

“Do I have better access to senior government ministers and secretaries of state and No 10 than Andy Burnham? Of course I do,” he said.

“That’s the nature of the politics, but that’s also not to say that Andy doesn’t have that access. I just know that Andy doesn’t try and utilise that access as much as he probably could. Would he ever have the same access as me? It’d be nonsense to say that he could do that.”

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GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 month ago

Pure delusion. It’s Westminster that’s the problem for us, not England not having devolution. These two things have nothing to do with eachother. Go have devolution England, it means nothing to us wanting freedom from a corrupt political entity.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

I do not think these people understand us. Do these people think that by giving English regions more devolution, that I will, all of a sudden, be happy for us to pay into thing’s like HS2, that has no benefit to our country, and give up on Indy, to continue to live off scraps handed down from Westminster, and be happy for the English regions to have a bigger say, but only the regions with a Tory mayor who have the ear of Downing St. This man is having a laugh.

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

This is another example of the political class over the dyke not having any clue what Wales and Scotland are – we are nations, guys. When we keep hearing the old counter of “Well, what about the North of England?” or “London has a strong identity too” type arguments, what is being posited is two-fold: 1. You are the same as an English Region – just a region. 2. The nature of your formation of government is inextricably tied to a political motive that nests within a British political paradigm. Sure, forms of devolution being tried in England is fine… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh
Grayham Jones
1 month ago

The UK 🇬🇧 is finished it’s time for Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 and Ireland 🇮🇪 to be Free

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

If most people who want independence for Wales and Scotland think this way of thinking is utter crap – why do these Tories even think it? Because they live in a world that revolves around England and only England. The ironic thing is this line of thinking will actually increase the support for independence not squash it and he’s so blinkered he doesn’t see it.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

The Tories were founded as an English party, and England is their one and only focal point.

Remember, the Tory conference anthem is Jerusalem. And I quote the final verse. Speaks volumes.

“In England’s green and pleasant land.”

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

This Tory fool compares nations with regions of England, lol. So funny.

He actually thinks it will hinder Wales or Scotland independence ambitions or Home Rule by demoting us to mere regions. Not happening!

I’d like to pop his bubble by telling him that England is not the size of Russia and by assuming devolving powers to the English regions is comparable with the parliaments of Wales & Scotland or the NI Legislative Assembly is rediculous..

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