Mark Casci: Siemens deal and honesty from PM welcome as the economy remains on thin ice

Siemens is planning to build a new train manufacturing plant at Goole.

The news that infrastructure giant Siemens is to invest more money into Yorkshire came at the end of a tough week for the region.

As we all struggled to deal with some of the coldest and most disruptive weather seen for some years, it was a welcome development to hear that a multi-million pound train factory would be constructed in Goole.

Ice climbers on the downfall at Kinder Downfall, High Peak in Derbyshire PRESS ASSOCIATION

Huge credit should go to Siemens for having the foresight to recognise that, just as its wind turbine factory in Hull has shown, Yorkshire’s industrial prowess can bring powerful benefits to its business.

Recognition must also be handed to the likes of East Riding of Yorkshire council, the region’s MP Andrew Percy and the local business community at large for creating the conditions needed for a world-leading corporate giant to choose this region for such a key project.

The news helped to warm hearts after a bitterly cold week and one which is going to freeze more than just windscreens.

Estimates from various economists and forecasters have put the bill the cold weather has brought at around £1bn a day as the cost of delayed and cancelled journeys, lost work days, reduced footfall and delayed infrastructure work mounts up.

John Wild pulled three cars out of snow drifts around the Sabden area last week as blizzards and drifts caused hazardous driving conditions.

What is more troubling is the effect it has on the wider picture of our national finances, with some estimates predicting it could reduce the first quarter of GDP figures by as much as 0.2 per cent.

Our predicted GDP growth is already the weakest in the G7 nations and a drop of 0.2 per cent would half the predicted 0.4 per cent growth we are forecast to record.

It should serve as a powerful indicator of how precarious our national finances are that growth forecasts can be halved by a downturn in the weather.

The Siemens deal was announced on the same day as the latest heavily-trailed speech from Prime Minister Theresa May. Anyone hoping for more clarity was disappointed but the tone the Prime Minister struck this time was more in tune with the current situation the country faces.

Theresa May delivered her Brexit strategy last Friday

In a section detailing the “hard facts” that need to be recognised about the debate, Mrs May said “we both need to face the fact that this is a negotiation and neither of us can have exactly what we want”.

This much has been evident for some time. As I said back in September, the set-up we as a country will likely have in terms of our relations with the rest of the world after we exit the European Union is unlikely to please anyone. It will involve departing the EU but have some elements of alignment left in place.

Hard facts are hard for a reason. It is the easiest thing in the world to tell people what they want to hear, or to give into the alluring pull of identity politics and confirmation bias.

But the only way we can move negotiations like these, and by extension our national prosperity, is if we agree to a spirit of compromise. It is a spirit we as a nation, and those leading the negotiations in Brussels, must embrace.

European Commission negotiator Michel Barnier arrives at 10 Downing Street for talks with Brexit Secretary David Davis. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 5, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

If we continue to jump on every scrap of information about the economy as proof of the impending doom or glory Brexit is going to bring us we are doing the nation’s future a disservice.

The debate is palpably causing issues for the national economy. Just this week National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew was quoted in the Financial Times as saying that lack of clarity over Brexit and proposed Government intervention in the energy market were spooking investors.

That is why we must celebrate the likes of the Siemens deal and the many other large deals coming out of Yorkshire.

The Endless turnaround of BAI reported on the front page today is an example of the global excellence we can achieve.

We cannot deny the reality of the nation’s economic fragility. But if we keep talking it down we are doing nobody any favours, especially when it remains on such thin ice.

A report has found that young people are unhappy with the Brexit decision.

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