Adam Bradford: Brexit and why Yorkshire sets the example for global Britain

Theresa May delivers her Brexit speech.
Theresa May delivers her Brexit speech.
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IT was a clear, fully-fledged Brexit which Prime Minister Theresa May promised Britain this week. She used her eagerly-awaited speech to diplomats at Lancaster House to unveil her 12-point Brexit plan.

She flung open the doors of the country to international trade and expressed how she wants to see Britain rebuild its international identity.

I liked the speech.

Actually Theresa May changed my mind, I was a Remain voter and feared the worst for a Leave outcome.

Like many people my age in the region, I feared a vote to Leave would be a vote against internationalism, a sure-fire ticket to sink our country and quash any chance of us rebuilding our economy.

Since the result in June, I have taken my time in reflecting and absorbing commentary and studies about how Brexit might affect us.

I think the truth is nobody really knows how our negotiations, deals, economy, job market will work out until the cogs of the Brexit wheel start to turn.

Something really did strike me in the PM’s speech.

She was strong, firmly instilling British values and nationalism back into our country.

Her words were refreshing and clear, and they did give me hope for a Britain post-Brexit.

This made me think about the region I live in.

We are international in our culture, in our outlook and have recently been seizing opportunities for international export and deals; outside of Europe, may I add.

Maybe Britain should take a leaf out of Yorkshire’s book.

Already, since the Leave vote was revealed back in June 2016, the region has been taking strides to show its resilience and investment in opportunity.

We have active Local Enterprise Partnerships, representing our businesses and our cities and opening the door to opportunity nationally and from further afield.

Sheffield also made history with an innovative China deal late last year which will bring investment, jobs and growth to the city.

Yorkshire is already a region of internationalism and will continue to be just as strongly after Article 50 is invoked before the end of March.

International trade organisations help our companies unlock new markets and build the local economy, while creating jobs.

We do need the support of our national Government in this bid for growth and innovation, and that is why I feel Brexit could be positive for Yorkshire.

The next generation, who will inherit the legacy of Brexit, have shown the country that they are strong and believe in diversity and good values.

Sheffield was one of the few cities in the region which actively did not take part in the country-wide riots in 2011.

It is not just business and youth which our region can hold up as exemplary. Multiple athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics last year were home-grown talents.

We are a sporting region, renowned for our excellent facilities, world-class athletes and our competitiveness. This is not forgetting that we previously hosted the Tour de France and the annual Tour de Yorkshire is growing in stature.

Despite the positive promise of a stronger Britain, a fairer Britain and a more international country, these changes will not come without effort or challenge.

If we really are to strengthen our trade links, depend less on European Union protocol and stand on our own two feet we need to start preparations now. Yorkshire is poised in a prime position to seize the opportunity in Brexit for international trade, for showcasing our diversity and our true internationalism and to continue to build our national and international brand.

I hope our local leaders feel pride and promise through Theresa May’s Brexit message. Many of the principles and values she upheld in her 45-minute speech are already beating through the heart of Yorkshire.

We need to position ourselves and assess the impact of Brexit on our region from now.

The region voted in favour of the Leave vote, though this decision will have brought some divide, and especially with regards to views on immigration.

We are a diverse country and indeed a diverse region. We need to speak and act now through our values and not play into narrative which suggests a Leave vote is potentially a racist or discriminatory one.

Harrogate and York backed a Remain vote, but overwhelmingly our region wanted better local regulation over key industries such as transport, a better deal for workers and a change which would hopefully bring more prosperity.

Only time will tell how the decision to Leave will affect us all. One thing is for sure, that Yorkshire wants to make a success of it– and that we do already live in a Global Yorkshire.

Adam Bradford is a young social entrepreneur from Sheffield. He is involved in several social impact campaigns, including gambling and autism awareness. He is the recipient of a Queen’s Young Leaders Award for his work.