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England’s new Metro Mayors must unite with Sadiq Khan to demand fresh powers — IPPR North

England’s Mayors — which from 5 May will govern a third of England’s citizens — must unite to demand fresh devolved powers from whoever forms the next government, to improve public services and forge new trade links post-Brexit, a leading think-tank says.

  • “Triple-whammy” turnout threat – will turnout match the 34% seen in first London mayoral election? [see notes]
  • All parties should offer Mayoral city-regions, and over time, other English areas, a “menu” of powers with check-and-balance “price”.
  • Note: while this call is embargoed to close-of-polls avoid influencing voters, IPPR North is available to comment on the elections in a general capacity.

IPPR North calls on the six Metro Mayors and the Mayor of London, to unite to call for sweeping new powers over education, health and employment, with strong local checks-and-balances. This could free the civil service to focus on Brexit.

It adds that these Mayors can be vital players in “Team GB” post-Brexit, in attracting investment and forging trade links, as Britain is set to seek new trade deals .

Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said:

“We’ve heard a lot about strong and stable leadership in this election, and we need this sort of leadership locally too, to drive inward-investment and deliver great public services.

“Together the London Mayor and England’s new Metro Mayors will represent almost twenty million people, far more than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. Working together, they will be a powerful voice for England.

“Using ‘soft powers’, they can act as advocates for their city-regions on the global stage, helping win investment and broker trade globally.

“But while these soft powers are important, to really compete, Mayors need the kind of fiscal powers enjoyed by American mayors, German federal states and French régions. Even London only controls 7% of the tax it raises, compared to 50% in New York City.

“With powerful local checks-and-balances, Mayors can reboot the devolution revolution and free the civil service to focus on Brexit.”

In January, following a House of Lords discussion on an IPPR North report on Brexit and the North, Brexit secretary David Davis pledged to meet the North’s Metro Mayors.

IPPR North calls for unity among Mayors in these talks and other conversations with whoever forms the next government in asking for powers over trade as we leave the EU.

The call follows IPPR North’s report Rebooting Devolution report, which called for a radical menu of devolution powers from central government — with an accompanying accountability “price”.

This would help reboot the devolution debate and give the public the clearer impression of these Mayors’ powers, amid predictions of poor turnout tomorrow [see table].

Ed Cox warned a “triple whammy” could affect turnout:

“It looks as though a triple whammy of election fatigue, mixed messaging on devolution from the current government, and a failure to really bring voters along the process, could hit turnout in these important elections.

“If this happens, the London experience shows Mayors can increase turnout over time by working closely with businesses and communities: turnout in London in 2000 was just 34% but in 2016, 45%.

“And more generally, the next government must reboot devolution with a proper process for deal-making, with a clear but flexible “menu” of powers in return for an accountability “price”.

Turnout in British elections:

Turnout for new roles increases over time as voters see the role in action….

Turnout for the first London mayoralty, 2000 34.4%

Turnout for the most recent London mayoralty, 2016 45.3%

Turnout for 2012 Police & Crime Commissioner elections 15.1%

Turnout for 2016 Police & Crime Commissioner elections 27.3%

… and varies on the type of election

2017 contest for the Unite union leadership turnout 12%

2016 English local government elections turnout 33.8%

2015 general election turnout 66.1%

2016 European Union referendum turnout 72.2%


Ash Singleton,, 07887 422 789.


IPPR North is the North of England’s progressive think-tank.

IPPR North is a leading voice on devolution and Mayors:

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