A NEW era has opened in British politics. As Theresa May stepped purposefully inside 10 Downing Street yesterday evening for the first time as Prime Minister, she was also taking a step into the unknown.
Her premiership will be defined by her handling of the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the EU. She will stand or fall according to the course she sets for the future and the deals she can strike on both trade and immigration.
Yet there is nothing to guide her, no precedent, no country to look to which has previously left the EU, no state from which to learn the pitfalls to be avoided. Mrs May has not only to be a premier. She has to be a pioneer.
Although it is the seismic upheaval of the Brexit vote that set Mrs May on the road to Downing Street, and is bound to dominate the domestic political agenda for the foreseeable future, the remainder of her in-tray is formidably full.
Challenges await on all fronts, domestically, internationally and politically.
Regionally, too, since Yorkshire will want to see a closing of the north-south divide so wide under David Cameron, and practical steps taken by Mrs May to help this region fulfil its great economic potential.
Yorkshire has high expectations of Mrs May, and looks to her to make good on a series of issues which, if handled correctly, can produce great benefits not only for our region, but for Britain as a whole.
The Northern Powerhouse should be a priority for her. The previous administration was long on warm words but short on hard cash, and if Mrs May’s pledge to close the chasm between London and the rest of the country is not to ring hollow, she must provide the practical support to let the North’s great cities unlock their combined strength.
As part of that, the region’s creaking transport network needs urgent action from the Government. There must be clarity on HS2 and a firm commitment to fast trans-Pennine rail. She comes to office not only because of Brexit, but because of the manifesto on which the Conservatives won the general election 14 months ago.
The results in this region’s marginal seats played a key role in that. Mrs May has a duty to explain both how she intends to deliver on that manifesto, and how her new era will be a bright one for Yorkshire.