Scottish Independence: Now The North's Newspapers Have United To Demand Devolved Power

Now The North's Newspapers Have United To Demand Devolved Power

Following Scotland's historic referendum vote, regional newspapers in northern England have united to launch a campaign for greater powers in the north to tackle an "uneven playing field" in the UK.

In a display of unity, northern titles including The Journal, Chronicle, Northern Echo, Gazette, Yorkshire Post and Manchester Evening News issued a joint demand for devolved power.

All the papers carry the same front page message calling for the North to be given "far more control over its own affairs".

Referring to the "vow" to Scottish voters from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour's Ed Miliband, which was carried on the front page of the Daily Record in the run-up to polling day, the newspapers urged the three leaders to make a similar promise to the North.

The message said: "The North of England is already competing on an uneven playing field, squeezed by an economically-strong London to the south and Scotland to the north.

"We know that we have what it takes to succeed if we're given the tools to do the job, creating jobs in the North - and boosting the economy of UK plc."

Journal editor Brian Aitken said: "The unprecedented coming together of the great Northern newspaper brands should send a clear message to our politicians that it is vital they make sure the North does not suffer from having an economic powerhouse to the south and a far more competitive Scotland to the north."

Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, said: "The guarantee of additional powers for Scotland - irrespective of the referendum result - presents particular challenges for the North of England. The Northern Echo is happy to be joining forces with other major regional newspapers to call on party leaders to ensure the North of England is not overshadowed or neglected."

Jeremy Clifford, editor of The Yorkshire Post, said: "The debate over the referendum in Scotland has opened up a much wider call for increased powers for the regions.

"We are joining with newspaper titles across the North to ensure this vitally important part of England does not lose out in the aftermath of the Scotland decision."

David Cameron is due to make a live TV address to the nation from 10 Downing Street Friday morning, which is expected to set out not only proposals to devolve more powers to the Scottish Parliament, but also significant changes to the constitutional settlement for other parts of the country in the wake of the country's historic referendum.

Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove, a close ally of the Prime Minister, indicated that this could involve reforms to ensure only English MPs can vote on English issues at Westminster.

Asked if he thought Scotland had voted to remain in the UK, Gove told Sky News: "It does look as though - and I'm keeping every limb crossed - the United Kingdom will be safe."

Gove said Cameron was "anxious to ensure that, after this referendum campaign, we can bring the United Kingdom together".

The prime minister is facing mounting pressure for constitutional change within England from politicians on all sides following the promise to grant more powers to Scotland if voters rejected independence.

Tory former Cabinet minister Liam Fox said change is "unavoidable" to address the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on devolved issues in Westminster, while Labour's John Denham called for devolution within England.

But Independent MP Eric Joyce suggested that Scotland had won the promise of further devolution with the threat: "Give us a lot more money or the union gets it."

Dr Fox said the cross-party vow to give more powers to Holyrood meant the "English question and the West Lothian question" has to be addressed as there is an "imbalance in our constitutional relationship".

He told BBC2's Newsnight: "There are a number of ways that we can address that but I think now it will have to be addressed. Politicians have ducked the question for too long."

"But I do think effectively what we must ensure is that Scottish MPs, who cannot vote on issues like health and education in Scotland, should not be entitled to vote on health and education in constituencies like mine in North Somerset.

"It is profoundly undemocratic and unfair, that needs to be dealt with."


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