Council leader insists Yorkshire won't be left behind in Brexit deal

Harrogate council leader Richard Cooper
Harrogate council leader Richard Cooper

The leader of Harrogate Borough Council believes Yorkshire will not be left with a “raw deal” when the UK begins talks about the Brexit process.

In David Cameron’s first statement to Parliament after the referendum vote, he stressed that the interests of all parts of the UK would be protected and advanced.

As a result, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments would be consulted in the negotiations, as well as “all regional centres of power”.

However, concerns have been raised that Yorkshire may get left behind in these negotiations if London attempts to hold on to taxes raised there.

There is also no united devolution deal in place across Yorkshire, with separate deals on the table for a West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Sheffield City Region.

Despite admitting that a preferred Greater Yorkshire deal doesn’t seem likely, Coun Richard Cooper said he did not believe this would negatively impact any Brexit deal for the county.

He said: “My preferred option has always been a Greater Yorkshire devolution bid but, unfortunately, it does not look as if this will happen.

“But, I don’t think we will get a raw deal simply because we don’t have one Yorkshire voice. The North and East are likely to have two different deals anyway.

“Why would we want to achieve one voice? The priorities in Hull are completely different to the ones in Harrogate or Barnsley.

“So, I expect the government to negotiate on behalf of the whole country to get the best deal possible.”

William Wallace, a Liberal Democrat peer, has argued the need for institutionalised representation, alongside the devolved administrations, in negotiations to reshape the UK following Brexit.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire questioned who would make the case for public investment in Yorkshire and warned it would be “easy” for the Government to ignore Labour local government leaders.

Coun Cooper admitted he did have concerns following Brexit, he stressed that there was no reason to believe Yorkshire would get left behind.

He said: “Yorkshire does have its own voice. We now have a Yorkshire MP Andrew Percy who is responsible for the future of the Northern Powerhouse.

“But we do have some concerns with the negotiations. We are most concerned with access to the single market and access to funding.

“Yorkshire is a great exporter as is the Harrogate district with regards to spa water and Bettys so there is an expectations that access to the single market should remain.

“Also, in places like Harrogate you see a lot of European immigration supporting the tourism industry.

“So I want a sensible approach to immigration.”