Major event in Leeds will call for the North to speak with one voice over Brexit

BUSINESS and political leaders will call for the North of England to speak with one voice over Brexit when they gather for a major public debate in Yorkshire later this year.

Lord Jim O'Neill Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Global Policy North, a new network of academics and policy makers in the North of England, is hosting a conference in Leeds on “The Challenge of Brexit for the North”.

The keynote speakers include Hilary Benn, the MP for Leeds Central who is chairman of the Exiting the European Union committee, and Lord Jim O’Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

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Dr Mark Shaw, an assistant director at the Global Policy Institute, said the event would provide a forum for discussion about how to meet the challenges of Brexit.

He added: “The priority for northern leaders ought to be to forge a consensus on the type of Brexit that we want to see, and then deliver this message powerfully to Government.”

“Our goal is to provide a forum for discussion of how the huge changes that Brexit will bring can be met: in some areas there will be difficulties and in others opportunities.

“This event is a chance for business leaders, political leaders, and academic leaders to talk to each other and understand how the North can adapt and face the post-Brexit future.

“It is also a great chance for members of the public to engage with this issue.”

Dr Shaw added: “From the discussions I’ve had with our speakers, all want to ensure that the Brexit deal maximises the opportunities for businesses in the North to trade and thrive, and protects our prosperity.

“Exactly how we do this is still an open question, as the continuing debate in Westminster shows.

“The goal of this conference is to discuss how to get the best deal for the North, and to help the North have its say in the debate on our post-Brexit future. We must ensure that the North is not forgotten.”

Lord O’Neill said the North must tackle problems caused by weak productivity and regional inequality as Brexit approaches.

Mr Benn said: “Brexit will have a considerable impact on all of our lives and on the economy of the North. It’s vital that we get the best deal we can for jobs and investment.”

The conference will bring together politicians, academics, and business leaders to discuss the challenge of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The four panels of the conference will consider investment and industry, infrastructure and energy, education and health. Other notable speakers will include Sir Alan Langlands, the vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, Sir David Warren a former ambassador to Japan and Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Another of the speakers, Conor Kehoe, a senior partner emeritus, from McKinsey & Company, said: “I look forward to exploring the possible economic outcomes from Brexit in the North, along with what the North can do to optimise its position and exploit new opportunities that Brexit might present.”

The conference will take place at the Clothworkers’ Centenary Hall at the University of Leeds, from 8.30am on Thursday September 20 2018.

Global Policy North provides a platform for Northern academics and policymakers to extend their research through coordination and collaboration.

With offices at Durham University, the organisation aims to generate debate about public and private policy-making and international relations.