The north of England needs greater devolution of powers and Brexit could provide such an opportunity, said the Archbishop of York speaking in Parliament.
Addressing members of the House of Lords during a debate about the state of the north, Dr John Sentamu said: “We need more devolution from south to north. Devolution of powers and devolution of institutions. We need cabinet-level figures to champion the north - people who know the qualities of the north from experience of their own.”
Welcoming the recent ‘State of the North 2016’ report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, the archbishop said that successive governments had invested in London at the expense of other parts of the country, in what he referred to as “the leeching of the north”.
“Unless we get things right in the north, the whole country will be more divided, less prosperous and more unhappy”, he warned.
The report found that the decision to leave the EU posed a greater threat to northern regions which are twice as dependent on EU trade as the capital.
The think tank made three main recommendations: the formation of a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee to determine the type of Brexit that would best suit the north; a regional approach to the government’s industrial strategy with a heavy emphasis on devolution of powers; and resilience audits to set out the threats to northern business in the wake of Brexit.
Dr Sentamu said it was unacceptable that energy and resources had been sucked southwards: “In short, the whole country needs the north to flourish”, he said.