WEARSIDE’S politicians say they are overjoyed that Scotland has said “no” to independence from the UK.
In a close referendum, 55 per cent of Scots voted against leaving the union, which has existed for the past 307 years.
The economic effects were felt soon after, with the pound hitting a two-year high against the euro following the announcement of the result.
It had been feared that a yes vote could mean a negative knock-on effect for Sunderland and the North East.
But that was not the case. Prime Minister David Cameron has now unveiled proposals to allow English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs to vote alone on policies only impacting their residents, mirroring pledges made on fresh devolution to Scotland.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, who is also chairman of the Association of North East Councils and chairman of the Key Cities Group, said: “The city council has set down its views on devolution as part of the Key Cities Manifesto for Growth.
“In recent years, England has become over-centralised in its distribution of powers and there is an emerging view among city leaders that this simplistic strategy is not helping UK plc.
“Sunderland, as part of the North East, is very much looking forward to being part of this English devolution debate and seeing a more equitable distribution of decision-making.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, who had been in Scotland as part of the Better Together campaign, said: “It was a hard-fought campaign, a 10 per cent majority is close, but one which I think has brought the right decision.
“Here in the North East we have far more in common with Scotland than we do with parts of this country. Our problems are very similar in terms of regeneration in this post-industrial era.
“One of our strengths is that we are in a union and I’d have hated to see that broken.”
MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, added: “I’m delighted that the people of Scotland have made the right choice. The SNP and Alex Salmond simply never had the answers to the important questions about how a separated Scotland would function, and Scottish voters have rightly decided that their future is brighter within a strong United Kingdom.
“I hope that the division that this debate has opened in Scotland can now be healed, and both sides can accept the result and work together in the interests of Scotland and the wider UK.”
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, said: “The UK is stronger with Scotland as a part of it and especially in the North East where we have ties of history, shared industry and for many of us family ties as well.
“However, this debate has shown that there is a desire for change in politics and the constitution.
“All the main political parties must now work closely together to meet this challenge for the whole of the UK.”
Leader of Durham County Council and chairman of the North East Combined Authority, Coun Simon Henig, said: “We welcome the outcome of the referendum in Scotland as we believe there are close links between Scotland and the north of England and we are stronger together. It is now time to have a full debate about the devolution of power throughout the UK. If additional funding is guaranteed to meet the needs of Scotland it is reasonable to ask that funding is also guaranteed to meet the needs of northern England in areas such as transport and the economy.”