Former shadow minister Dan Jarvis has applied to become South Yorkshire’s new “metro mayor”, HuffPost UK has been told.
The Barnsley MP, who at one stage was tipped as a future Labour leader, has joined former minister Richard Caborn and local councillor Ben Curran on the list of contenders for his party’s selection contest, party sources said.
The election for the newly-created South Yorkshire mayoralty takes place in May along with other local elections across the country.
Labour, which is expected to win the election in one of its strongest northern heartlands, is set to announce its candidate in March.
But the South Yorkshire post centres on Sheffield and will give little power or money to the new region.
Ex-Para Jarvis has been calling for months for a bigger ‘One Yorkshire’ mayoralty, taking in Leeds, Barnsley and Doncaster as well as Sheffield, and his move will be seen as a stepping stone to ensuring the wider plan gets Government approval.
So far 18 out of 20 Yorkshire councils back the mega-mayoralty idea, which would create a new devolved structure even bigger than Manchester or the West Midlands’ metro mayoralties and make it second only to London in scale.
If all 20 support the plan, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid would be under huge pressure to act.
Although he has formally applied for the South Yorkshire selection, HuffPost understands that Jarvis has not yet decided whether to go ahead with a full-blown candidacy.
When the Thursday 5pm deadline for the selection passed, the only contenders were the three men. The party is understood to be keen on a more gender balanced race and is set to extend the deadline.
Jarvis may not be planning on leaving Parliament even if he opts to go for the current mayoral post.
But his enthusiasm from stronger devolution for Yorkshire follows moves by other former Labour frontbenchers who have all decided their political future lies away from Westminster.
Sadiq Khan in London, Andy Burnham in Manchester and Steve Rotheram in Liverpool all now run substantial metro mayoralties with wide-ranging powers and big budgets.
Although the South Yorkshire mayoralty is in theory a four-year post, there is pressure on Javid to curb its tenure to two years and use it as a stepping stone to a wider mayoralty for the whole county.
Jarvis has been lobbying hard for a ‘One Yorkshire’ mayoralty, leading debates on the topic in the House of Commons and writing a blog for HuffPost on his hopes for a radical devolution settlement for the county.
After Ed Miliband’s disastrous 2015 general election, several MPs and party members urged Jarvis to run for Labour leader.
At the time he explained that his young family came first. He pulled out of the Labour’s interim frontbench team before Jeremy Corbyn was elected and as a result was not one of the shadow ministers involved in the ‘coup’ attempt against the leader in 2016.
He has worked with Corbyn in raising the profile of child poverty in Barnsley.
Jarvis refused to comment on his plans when approached by HuffPost.