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PM listens to northern concerns about devolution

PM listens to northern concerns about devolution

- Paul Brand, ITV Political Correspondent

I've just spoken to one of the MPs among the dozen or so backbenchers who met the Prime Minister to discuss concerns about the impact that devolving powers to Scotland would have on England.

James Wharton tells me that three northern MPs - himself, John Stevenson and Rory Stewart, all raised concerns with David Cameron that the north would need to compete with a more powerful Scotland.

They didn't discuss what kind of devolution was needed, but they all agreed that the north required greater powers in order to hold its own. Solutions that James Wharton floated include a regional minister for the north of England, or greater power for Local Enterprise Partnerships.

He tells me that the Prime Minister listened to the concerns and referred back to them when summing up the meeting, with MPs leaving confident about the chance of progress.

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Ed Balls: Labour to cap child benefit rise for two years

Child benefit would see cuts for the first two years of a Labour government, Ed Balls is expected to announce.

The shadow chancellor will say that Labour will cap child benefit for at least two years. Credit: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/Press Association Images

The shadow chancellor will present a 1% cap on rises in the help for parents as one of the "tough decisions" necessary to deal with the deficit if the party takes power next year - claiming it will save the taxpayer £400 million over five years.

He will seek to soften the blow by cutting ministers' pay by 5% and then freezing it until the party is able to "balance the books".

Addressing activists at the Opposition's final annual conference before the general election in May, he will vow not to "flinch from the tough decisions" needed to deal with the economy.

He will tell the Manchester gathering:

I want to see child benefit rising again in line with inflation in the next parliament.

But we will not spend money we cannot afford. So for the first two years of the next parliament we will cap the rise in child benefit at 1%.

It will save £400 million in the next parliament. And all the savings will go towards reducing the deficit.

– Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor

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Labour activists gather for party's annual conference

Labour activists will gather today ahead of the start of the party's annual conference following Scotland's decision to reject independence.

Ed Miliband has arrived in Manchester ahead of his party's annual conference. Credit: PA Wire

Ed Miliband arrived in Manchester as Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to ensure English MPs were the only politicians allowed to vote on issues that affect England.

But Mr Miliband said he wants a national debate on the issue of constitutional reform.

Any moves to restrict Scottish MPs' votes on English matters could undermine any future Labour Government.

The Labour event is due to begin with a women's conference as Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow equalities minister Gloria De Piero all address activists.

Referendum reaction: What's next?

Scotland has said no to independence, rejecting the Yes campaign's vision to break away from the UK.

45% of people voted yes but 55% said no. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has announced he is resigning. He will step down in November.

But what does the result mean for us, in the North East of England?

David Cameron has already promised more say for the English regions and today there has been a clamour of calls for the North East to have far greater control of its own affairs. We will be looking at that in more detail in a moment.

ITV Political Correspondent Paul Brand looks at the reaction in Westminster, and what happens next:

Referendum reaction from the North East economy

As we take in the political implications of the referendum result, the North East business community is assessing the economic impact on our region.

Overall, firms say the No vote provides much needed stability, but there are still questions to be answered about the road ahead.

Helen Ford examines the reaction of the North East economy:

View from border: Berwick's reaction to the referendum

Aside from the economic and political arguments, nowhere in the North East region has been more aware of the implications of the referendum result than the town of Berwick in the far north of Northumberland.

Kenny Toal has spent the day there, following Scotland's decision to reject independence:

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Referendum reaction: The North East economy

Further devolution in Scotland without similar powers for the North East could be bad for business, according to one of the region's leading business figures.

Fergus Trim, Development Director at Quorum Development Partners, said: "If we can mirror what's being offered in Scotland and take more control of the economy here, then that will be positive for us."

  1. Border

Sturgeon: 'No greater privilege than to seek to lead the Party'

Nicola Sturgeon has said that in the aftermath of Alex Salmond's resignation as First Minister, it would be a "privilege..to seek to lead the Party."

"Alex's announcement today inevitably raises the question of whether I will be a candidate to succeed him as SNP leader.

"I can think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the Party I joined when I was just 16. However, that decision is not for today.

"My priority this weekend, after a long and hard campaign, is to get some rest and spend time with my family.

"I also want the focus over the next few days to be on the outstanding record and achievements of the finest First Minister Scotland has had.

– Nicola Sturgeon MSP
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Nicola Sturgeon pays emotional tribute to Alex Salmond

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has paid tribute to Alex Salmond, after he announced he would be leaving his post in the wake of the independence referendum rejection.

In a full statement on her website, she praised Salmond's achievements whilst in office as "second to none."

Nicola Sturgeon also said that the personal debt she owed him was "immeasurable."

"Alex Salmond's achievements as SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister are second to none.

"He led the SNP into government and has given our country a renewed self confidence.

"Through policies such as the council tax freeze, free prescriptions and the scrapping of tuition fees, he has made a real difference for hundreds of thousands of Scots.

"And yesterday he inspired 1.6 million of our fellow citizens to vote Yes to independence.

"The personal debt of gratitude I owe Alex is immeasurable. He has been my friend, mentor and colleague for more than 20 years. Quite simply, I would not have been able to do what I have in politics without his constant advice, guidance and support through all these years."

– Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Salmond resigns after Scotland rejects independence

Alex Salmond driven through a side entrance at Aberdeen Airport. Credit: Newsline Media

Alex Salmond was pictured looking disappointed in the early hours of this morning after results started to point towards a victory for the No campaign.

Scotland's First Minister was shown being driven through a side entrance to a private plane at Aberdeen Airport.

Early results and final polling had indicated that Scottish voters were most likely to have rejected independence in yesterday's vote - perhaps explaining the apparent dejection on Salmond's face.

Alex Salmond today said he would be standing down as Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party leader after voters in Scotland rejected independence in an historic referendum.

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