Boris Johnson said Yorkshire stands to benefit hugely if Britain exits the EU, as he singled out the financial burden on small businesses imposed by union membership.
Setting out what he said are key benefits of a Brexit for the region, the London politician told The Yorkshire Post ahead of a rally in Leeds this evening that a Brexit would free up cash for the region’s businesses to grow.
Mr Johnson said: “Great Yorkshire companies have an opportunity now to think globally. I think without the incumbencies of the European Union, British business can really thrive and prosper.
“Regulation from Brussels probably costs UK business about £600m per week. Every small business in this country has to comply with 100 per cent of the costs and the regulations coming from the European Union, even if only five per cent of our businesses are exporting to the rest of the EU - so it is very rigid structure.
“I think the opportunity for businesses in this part of the world is to get rid of a lot of the unnecessary regulation and be able to think globally. And to have trade deals done by UK officials who know the particular needs of those businesses.”
The Mayor of London also said it was also very important to get messages out to the farming world.
“Two crucial points. One - the single farm payment - the Leave campaign, we are guaranteeing that we will continue to support British agriculture in the way it is being supported. So they will get the subsidies.
“Secondly, we can make life cheaper for them by getting rid of some of the regulations again.”
Mr Johnson, who is at loggerheads with Prime Minister David Cameron over his stance on EU membership, was in Leeds to deliver a keynote policy speech at a rally as part of his northern “Brexit blitz” tour.
Ahead of his appearance in West Yorkshire, Mr Johnson wrote exclusively in The Yorkshire Post that he believes the region’s steel industry will only be saved if Britain votes ‘out’.
He blamed EU obstinacy for the Government being “powerless” to take the action needed to salvage the steel industry - and protect the country’s manufacturing base - after rising costs, and a glut of Chinese cut-price steel driving down global prices, prompted Tata Steel to pull the plug on its UK operations.
Mr Johnson also said that Yorkshire and the Humber’s £1.1bn contribution to Brussels was the equivalent of one quarter of the amount spent on education locally each year and that Brexit would enable the UK to protect existing farm subsidies while also having “billions of pounds a year left over to spend on our own priorities”.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Mr Johnson used a rally in Newcastle to deliver a fresh attack on Mr Cameron for “shamefully” spending £9.3m of taxpayers’ money on a pro-EU leaflet.
His speech was interrupted by hecklers shouting “no Tories in Newcastle” and a group of women with at least one small child with them were escorted out.
But he told the crowd there that, unlike anonymous politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels, voters can hold him accountable.
“People know what I do, they shout at me in the street rather like those kindly people. They shout ‘you Tory tosser’ or whatever.
“They know who I am, they know what I do. Who knows what’s going on in Brussels?”