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Would York Parliament benefit Scotland? MPs sceptical of Boris Johnson plan

Micklegate, the old medieval gate of York.
Micklegate, the old medieval gate of York.

Boris Johnson’s plan to move Parliament to York while the Palace of Westminster undergoes renovation has been met with scepticism from Scottish MPs.

The prime minister, in a leaked letter, said the government is considering establishing a hub in the city and “it would therefore make sense to consider this as a potential location”.

The move, if it happens, would be expected to take place around 2025.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael questioned how well thought out the plan was, given York does not have an airport.

He said: “Such a proposal would make representation that much more difficult for communities not in driving distance of York.

“Perhaps it has escaped the prime minister’s grasp of detail but without an airport York is not exactly a connection hub.”

He added: “It is hard to believe that Boris Johnson would have the commitment needed to decamp to the north of England every week.

“There already is a working solution for renovating Parliament. The prime minister should get on with it.”

MPs and peers approved the option for a full move while renovation is carried out in 2018, but the measures have not been voted on by the new Parliament after the 2019 election.

Work on the Palace of Westminster is estimated to cost £3.5bn, but forecasters have said the final outlay will likely be higher.

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn questioned the level of cash being dedicated to the renovation, he said: “The key issue here is that this is a Government that can easily find billions to refurbish a palace but has stung the poorest in society with austerity for a decade.”

Fellow north-east MP Andrew Bowie cited some of the recent near misses on the parliamentary estate, with falling masonry and said the work was needed.

He said: “The gravity and history of the Palace of Westminster draws a million visitors each year.

“But that does come at a cost, if 7,500 staff and a million visitors every year are to remain safe.

“The near-misses and safety risks are well-documented and inaction isn’t a possibility.

“York is just one of a number of excellent prospects outside London. The prime minister is right to consider the benefits of mixing things up a little.”

Downing Street confirmed this afternoon that York is being considered as a temporary location for Parliament.

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