Cornwall 'must give up home rule ideas'
Cornwall must reject the politics of "victimhood and isolationism" by ditching the campaign for a devolved Cornish assembly, two Conservative MPs say today.
In an article for the Western Morning News, George Eustice and Sarah Newton instead call for Cornwall to seek greater powers from Whitehall, but make plain that being separate from the rest of the UK would be damaging.
Their comments will likely anger Cornish nationalists pushing for self-determination similar to devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales on the basis of the Duchy's distinct history and heritage.
It comes as the Government is ceding powers to the regions after recently completing a series of "city deals" to give Manchester, Leeds and others greater control over policies including transport and education.
But Mr Eustice, MP for Camborne and Redruth, and Ms Newton, who represents Truro and Falmouth, argue the "assembly agenda" is "failed and divisive", and died when Labour's push for elected regional chambers was dropped.
The MPs write: "Instead of clinging to this defunct 1990s devolution agenda, Cornwall must embrace a forward-looking approach.
"This should be less about paying for more politicians in a costly assembly and more about giving those councillors we already have a greater say.
"Rather than espousing the politics of victimhood and isolationism, our agenda must project Cornwall as a distinct, self-confident but outward- looking and enthusiastic part of the UK."
The article, which echoes the sentiment of campaigners trying to keep the United Kingdom together ahead of a referendum on Scottish independence, suggests Cornwall would be weakened by a devolved assembly, which has been the clarion call of Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow. It states: "Cornwall has always had a special place within the United Kingdom and has historically derived its real power through being enthusiastically British."
The MPs, both elected in 2010, also call for the creation of a "Stannary Chamber" to let town and parish councils scrutinise County Hall decisions, and to allow parish councils to make "co-decisions" on Government funds spent in their towns and villages.
Cornwall remaining within the UK would also make it more likely that ties with neighbouring Devon and the greater South West, in areas including policing and strategic economic development, would continue.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: "A strong peninsula is not based on the back of separation. We are a community and we should remain as one, but that does not mean you cannot respect distinct cultural identities."