North needs its own ‘all-star’ Brexit team

Ed Cox, director of the IPPR North think-tank, which has produced a report that calls for a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee to be set up.
Ed Cox, director of the IPPR North think-tank, which has produced a report that calls for a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee to be set up.
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A new “all-star” team of experts should be appointed to identify the North of England’s Brexit priorities and advise government in order to safeguard northern prosperity, an influential think-tank has urged.

In a report published today, IPPR North believes both the region, and the UK, would be best served in the Brexit negotiation process by having its own trusted committee of top politicians, public service leaders and business people to act as a single voice for the North in a way which would “bypass local parochialism or the special interests of particular economic sectors”.

Any new post-Brexit export tarrifs will have implications for businesses in the North of England, such as Nissan which manufacturers cars at its plant in Sunderland.  Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Any new post-Brexit export tarrifs will have implications for businesses in the North of England, such as Nissan which manufacturers cars at its plant in Sunderland. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Figures representing both sides of the Brexit vote should make up the membership of a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee, the report states.

The think-tank claimed that its call for any such committee was a proportional demand in respect of the North of England’s £300bn economy - which is larger than the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland economies combined.

Unlike London, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the North currently lacks “a coherent united voice to articulate its top priorities”, the report argues.

It also highlights that the North’s economy will be “significantly affected” by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union given the access to the single market that is currently enjoyed by key northern employers like Nissan, how the region benefits from European Union funding for economic development, and due to the new trading opportunities that will arise from the split.

The North of England’s £300bn economy faces real opportunities and challenges from Brexit.

Ed Cox, director of IPPR North

Exporting is likely to be a key priority for the North because of its thriving advanced manufacturing sector, the report adds.

Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn has stated that he could scrap potential new investment in the UK’s largest car plant in Sunderland if the Government refuses to pledge compensation for any tariffs that may be imposed after Brexit.

Ed Cox, IPPR North’s director, said: “The North of England’s £300bn economy faces real opportunities and challenges from Brexit - for instance, trade is very important to the North’s high-tech products like cars and pharmaceuticals - but this clearly must be balanced against concerns on immigration and jobs.

“Whether it’s top business leaders or trade union leaders, politicians, scientists and innovators or others, we want to hear who northerners think should join our “all-star team” for the North. Speaking with a single voice will put the North on par with Scotland and London during the negotiations.”

The Department for Exiting the European Union said it would be taking the views of people from across the country to inform its negotiations with the EU.

A spokesperson would not comment on the IPPR’s initiative, saying it was “a separate thing from government”.

The spokesperson said: “We have been clear that we need a UK-wide approach to negotiating and we are speaking to organisations around the country.”

Meanwhile, prominent Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith said he was happy with the way things were progressing, 100 days on from the historic vote on June 23.

The Conservative MP and former Work and Pensions Secretary has denied that the British public were misled in the run-up to Brexit, insisting that the NHS will stand to gain from Britain leaving the European Union.

IPPR North is asking the public who they think should be on any Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee and it is inviting people to email their suggestions to north@ippr.org by October 7.