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UK News

Archbishop of York blasts 'leeching of the north'

In a speech at the House of Lords on Thursday, Archbishop Dr John Sentamu said that southerners struggle to understand the situation of their northern counterparts.

Speaking about the economic divide between the north and south, Archbishop Sentamu said that "The state of the north is important because, unless we get things right in the north, the whole country will be more divided, less prosperous and more unhappy."

Archbishop Sentamu said that because the economy of the UK has shifted over the last 30 years from manufacturing to services, London has thrived but the north has been left behind.
 
"London has become an exceptional capital city," Dr Sentamu said, "it is an exception to the ways of life and the economic prospects of the rest of the country, especially the north.
 
"My Lords, this leeching of the north cannot go on if we are to remain a nation at one and at ease with itself. High Speed rail links running north-south might perhaps bring some of the wealth of London to the north - but are they not just as likely to make it quicker for the talent and the energy of the north to be sucked more quickly down to London?"

The Archbishop also said that southerners seemed surprised by the Brexit vote because they were benefiting from existing conditions but "the status quo before June 23rd was not serving the north well."

Dr Sentamu urged law makers to consider allowing people in the north to "take back control" of their local communities, saying that Brexit should not just be about more power for London.
 
"Much of the resilience of the north and its people stems from the long history of pride in the job that our industrial past created," the Archbishop said, "We may not get the old industries back, but we do need jobs in which people can take pride, and which reward their resilience."

He said that the north is not a pool of labour to enrich the south and needs the devolution of institutions in order to thrive.
 
He concluded: "We need a more diverse economy that draws on the skills of the northern people.
 
"If Brexit prompts a shift in that direction, it may just have been worth the uncertainty we are currently experiencing."

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