BRITAIN needs a new settlement that devolves more power to the regions and sits alongside a deal that governs our new relationship with the EU, according to Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.
Sir Keir called for more resources and infrastructure spending across the North of England when he addressed around 400 industry leaders at The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards.
Sir Keir told the audience at the awards dinner at the National Railway Museum in York: “We need a deal with the EU, of-course, but also a deal for Britain.”
He said the phrase “let’s take back control” had resonance during the EU referendum campaign.
He added: “The more people asked themselves, ‘Do I have enough control?’ the more they said, ‘No, I don’t.
“That rhetoric was reflective of the state of the nation.. Of a vote in which millions of people, said, ‘Actually, the way the economy and politics work is not good enough.”
He continued: “Alongside the right deal with the EU, we also need to have a new settlement for the UK.
“That new settlement has got to include a genuine move for more resources and more infrastructure and power to our regions.”
Sir Keir asked why building work had already started on HS2 - a high-speed railway which, when completed, will connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester - when, in his opinion, work should have started on HS3, a planned high speed rail line across the north of England.
He added: “Surely, there can be no clearer vote of confidence in the people and economy of Yorkshire than the decision to bring the Channel 4 headquarters to Leeds.
“That is fantastic. I do hope that many more public and private sector services and facilities will be moved out of the capital.”
But with extra investment in infrastructure, connections could be improved between Leeds and Manchester, which has become a major base for the BBC.
Sir Keir said that, when he spoke to union and business leaders, they agreed that the manufacturing and services sectors must be safeguarded during the Brexit negotiations.
He added: “My job..will be to play my part in delivering a Brexit deal that works for businesses up and down the country.
“I’ve spoken in the last two years to probably around 1,000 businesses, either face to face or in small groups.”
He said these meetings had given him a better understanding of the way businesses are run.
He added: “Millions of people have put their energies into creating successful businesses in Yorkshire; satisfying customers and providing employment. These awards are a really incredible way of recognising that.”
Sir Keir was elected as Labour MP for Holborn & St Pancras in May 2015. Before becoming an MP, he was a human rights lawyer who conducted cases in a wide range of international courts, including the European Court of Human Rights.
In 2008 Sir Keir was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales, a role he held until 2013.
In October 2016, Sir Keir was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet, taking up the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.
The awards dinner was hosted by Dermot Murnaghan, the Sky News anchor and also included a speech about the strength of the region’s economy from Mark Casci, The Yorkshire Post’s Business Editor.