Former chairman of North East says No campaign says devolution would still be bad for region

John Elliott tells The Journal he still does not support devolution as the debate is sparked back into life by the Scottish independence vote

L-R Ian Dormer, Philip Cummings and John Elliott of the North East Taxpayers Alliance with their 'White Elephant' on Newcastle's Quayside
L-R Ian Dormer, Philip Cummings and John Elliott of the North East Taxpayers Alliance with their 'White Elephant' on Newcastle's Quayside

The man who lead the North East to vote overwhelmingly against devolution almost exactly ten years ago will oppose it again.

John Elliot, who was chairman of the North East Says No campaign in 2004, said he still stands firmly against devolution of power to the North East.

Under his lead, 78% North Easterners voted against devolution while just 22% voted in favour in November 2004.

The former chairman has said he still considers devolution to be a bad idea amid a revival of the debate thanks to the Scottish referendum.

He told The Journal: “Devolution is politics speak. It’s a great word isn’t it? But what powers are we going to have tomorrow that we don’t have today?”

He denied that the North East needs more powers, claiming that the region is “no worse off than any other place in the UK”.

“How do we lose out to places like Buckinghamshire or Gloucestershire? This is not a North East thing - we are not abused by the rest of the country, there is no great conspiracy.”

Instead, he said that the real problem comes from politicians in Westminster doing a “bad job” for the country - which devolution does not solve.

“The clowns in Westminster aren’t doing a very good job. The same clowns would be up here,” he said.

He added that devolved powers would only result in “talking shops that will cost us more money.”

His comments come just a day after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed that more power should be given to the North East.

Mr Elliott said: “Nick Clegg is a fool” adding that he would get involved again in any campaign against devolution.

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