Local leaders 'must do more to seize Brexit trade opportunities'

Local leaders are facing calls to be more proactive in promoting international trade in the region,as figures indicate a growing frustration among voters that politicians are failing to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit.

The Government is releasing a series of Brexit position papers this week
The Government is releasing a series of Brexit position papers this week

According to research by the think tank Policy North, around two thirds of workers in the Yorkshire and Humber area feel local politicians could be doing more to boost post-Brexit trade, with 18 to 24-year-olds the most eager to see progress.

The survey follows an intervention by the UK's new chief trade negotiator Crawford Falconer claiming the pursuit of new trade deals outside the EU will bolster international cooperation and stability.

It also coincides with the publication of two new Brexit position papers outlining the Government's approach to trade in goods and services and information sharing.

The Policy North data shows that nationally 66 per cent of UK workers believe local politicians and mayors need to take more action now to promote international trade in their region.

This is strongest among younger age groups, with 71 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds in favour of more local activity, compared to 65.7 per cent of the over-55s.

The total was 66.1 percent for those surveyed in Yorkshire and Humber.

“This analysis reflects what we are hearing from businesses across the North – people just want our politicians to focus on the opportunities,” said the organisation's chairman Stephen Purvis.

“There is a consensus that, however you voted, leaving the EU opens up global trading possibilities but we cannot sit by and expect deals to materialise automatically.

“Once the UK leaves the EU we can trade with whomever we wish and the process must begin now.

“The UK and the North must seize the opportunity to sell Global Britain now by actively engaging with those nations and groups lining up to secure positive trading relationships, including in the Gulf. Australia and the USA to name but a few. We cannot afford to wait.”

The call comes as Brexit Secretary David Davis outlines the Government's plans to avoid a "cliff-edge" in the trade of goods and services when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

His department has also set out proposals to protect the confidentiality of official documents exchanged between the UK and EU while it was a member state.

It comes ahead of the next round of negotiations in Brussels on Monday,

"These papers will help give businesses and consumers certainty and confidence in the UK's status as an economic powerhouse after we have left the EU," said Mr Davis.

“They also show that as we enter the third round of negotiations, it is clear that our separation from the EU and future relationship are inextricably linked.

“We have already begun to set out what we would like to see from a future relationship on issues such as customs and are ready to begin a formal dialogue on this and other issues."