There’s an old saying: “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” It seems Sajid Javid’s horse had bad teeth.
Council leaders from Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside and Gateshead, who voted against the deal, argued that they had not had sufficient assurances from Theresa May’s government about hundreds of millions of pounds of EU funding pledged before the Brexit vote on June 23.
There were also concerns about increasing council tax to pay for a new directly elected mayor.
So George Osborne’s legacy lies in tatters. Considering all the harm he has done, it isn’t enough.
George Osborne’s northern powerhouse legacy has been thrown into doubt after the government pulled the plug on devolution in the north-east of England. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said the multimillion-pound deal was “off the table” after council leaders failed to agree on whether to accept devolved powers in their current form.
On Tuesday, council leaders were split by a single vote on whether to accept a deal that would include a raft of new powers and £30m a year in return for establishing an elected mayor.
The announcement is a blow to Osborne’s northern powerhouse vision, with the north-east now cast out of the devolution agenda and two other swaths of northern England – North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire – yet to agree deals with the government.
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