'What are they afraid of?' Archbishop of York challenges Government over One Yorkshire devolution snub

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu is supportive of Yorkshire devolution

The Archbishop of York has questioned the decision by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to turn down the One Yorkshire devolution deal.

The One Yorkshire plan, which would have seen the transfer of some powers from Whitehall to an elected mayor, was rejected despite having the backing of 18 out of the region's 20 local councils. 

Defending the decision, Mr Brokenshire told local councils that the plan did 'not meet our devolution criteria' but added that he was 'prepared to begin discussions about a different, localist approach to devolution in Yorkshire'.

In an apparent challenge to Mr Brokenshire to reconsider, Archbishop John Sentamu said on Twitter: 'He should listen to Yorkshire's united voice!'

'Yorkshire people will stand firm v.those who would divide us [SIC]. What are they afraid of?Better together!' he tweeted from Kerala, India, where is he is currently attending the Mar Thoma Convention. 

His tweets were welcomed by the Yorkshire Post which wrote in an editorial that his 'steadfast support is reassuring after this week's setback'. 

'One Yorkshire proponents are right to follow Dr Sentamu's lead. Questions about this region's future governance and growth will remain long after Mr Brokenshire has left office and his opposition, some might say obstinacy, should not be allowed to become insurmountable when the future of over five million people is at stake,' the newspaper wrote.

'Yet, rather than policy-making by press release, the means by which the Communities Secretary announced his latest decision, he should accept One Yorkshire's invitation for personal dialogue. After all, a way forward can only be found once the answer to the Archbishop's question is clearer – just what are Ministers afraid of?' 

In another response, the Yorkshire Post said that One Yorkshire supporters would not give up on the 'holy grail' of devolution. 

'The stakes could not be higher, with Manchester, Liverpool and the Tees Valley all using devolved powers handed down from government to tackle issues of regeneration, health and economic growth as Yorkshire looks on from the sidelines,' it said.