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MPs call for post-Brexit devolution ‘rethink’

A cross-party group of MPs has called on the Government to reconsider its approach to devolution after the UK leaves the European Union.

In a new report, the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee calls on ministers to draw up a clear devolution policy to help address the growing sense of disconnection, particularly in England.

The report adds such a policy must set out how the different parts of England will be ‘fairly and effectively represented’ and adds the Government needs to think about devolving ‘whole areas of competence’, rather than just ‘piece meal powers’,

‘Leaving the EU will change the UK’s constitutional arrangements, so it needs a re-think,’ says committee chair, Sir Bernard Jenkin.

‘We recommend the Government sets out a clear devolution policy for the Union as we leave the EU. Failure to do this just prolongs misunderstandings which are the basis for more conflict,’ added Sir Bernard.

‘The present machinery for developing inter-governmental relations is flimsy, and there is nothing to give the various parts of England a say. Ignoring this risks the future relations within the UK.’

Responding to the new report, the chief executive of the think tank Centre for Cities, Andrew Carter, said: ‘This report is welcome recognition of the progress that has been made on the city region devolution in recent years, and the need to go further on this agenda as the UK leaves the EU.

‘The most immediate task for Government should be to prioritise devolution deals for the remaining big cities in England yet to agree one, which would extend devolution to cover nearly half the population of England,’ added Mr Carter

‘We also back the select committee’s call for a systematic post-Brexit review of governance structures across the UK. It should have a working assumption to devolve policies and funding to the city or city region level wherever appropriate.’

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