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REGIONS WARN OF LONDON DOMINANCE

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A campaigner for devolution in the north east of England has warned that the government's half-hearted approach to ...
A campaigner for devolution in the north east of England has warned that the government's half-hearted approach to English regional government could destabilise its constitutional reform programme and increase London's dominance over the regions.

The Financial Times (p11) reports that John Tomaney, a founder of the Campaign for a Northern Assembly, says in a policy paper that in the absence of moves to create elected regional assemblies, an English backlash to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution may emerge in the form of a London-centred nationalism.

Mr Tomaney says the idea of an English parliament has gone down badly in the north-east, which regards a united English nation with grave suspicion. The key issue for the English regions, he said, was 'not the achievement of a theorectical constitutional symmetry, it is how to reduce the over-concentration of political, administrative, economic and cultural power to London and the south-east'.

Mr Tomaney says and English parliament would do nothing to address this problem. He adds: 'For the north-east and regions like it, the desire is, as in Scotland and Wales, for greater political autonomy in order better to determine its priorities.'

He says that without a clear signal from the government that the regions have an equal place in the emerging constitutional framework, a political vacuum could open up.
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