Why Rishi Sunak’s freeports are nothing to celebrate - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Chas Ball, Huddersfield.

THE Budget offered very little to encourage innovation in job creation for young people. But Rishi Sunak did introduce a new measure that will lead to relocation of jobs and deregulation of environmental and employment standards – freeports.

The plan to establish eight freeports as a means of attracting new investment leading to a “big jobs bonanza” is not without its critics, yet many local politicians of both larger parties appear enamoured with this announcement.

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Indeed, evidence from around the world suggests that it is existing businesses that mainly relocate into freeport areas, encouraged by regulatory relaxations and tax relief. Workers and taxpayers will pick up the costs, through low pay, less tax revenue, and greater inequality.

Boris Johnson (L) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (C), stand on board a boat on the River Tees on March 4, 2021 in Teesport, England. Teesport has been chosen as one of eight sites for new Freeports in England.

Freeports are described as areas geographically inside a country but legally outside it for customs purposes. This means that goods can enter and re-exit the freeport zone without incurring tariffs or undergoing import procedures. Typically, such zones enjoy lower taxes, tariffs and duties than the rest of the domestic economy.

Far from being an opportunity to “streamline existing environmental and regulatory frameworks” (Armoghan Mohammed, PwC regional chairman, The Yorkshire Post, March 4), it’s another tax haven for the wealthy, operating alongside and in competition with normal taxed and regulated areas.

These features may also lead to more disputes with the EU, with provision for freeports not having been included as part of the terms for future trading.

Given the climate emergency, these grand plans for economic development look set to move us in the wrong direction, threatening to undermine, rather than benefit, our future prosperity.

Teesside has been chosen to be one of eight post-Brexit freeports. Others include the Humber.

There’s nothing free about freeports. There will be real costs to local communities, their environment and the climate.

From: James Bovington, Horsforth, Leeds.

PETER Hyde may well be right that Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron offer a poor example of leadership. However any comparison between them and the Queen is based on the false premise of equality of roles (The Yorkshire Post, March 2).

A more appropriate comparison would be with our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson and this newspaper’s intelligent readership is more than capable of drawing its own conclusions on that score. Mr Hyde then explains how Labour has had to ‘kowtow’ (lovely word) to trade union leaders but fails to mention how the Tories frequently do the same to their own billionaire donors, the wheeler-dealers who caused the Brexit psychodrama.

There are many things I would like to change here but as a late and initially reluctant supporter constitutional monarchy is definitely not one. Monarchy by and large works. And the maternal great grandfather of the third in line to the throne was a coal miner. That’s actually what converted me.

I’ve tried to explain to French friends why and how this institution serves England well but unless you have lived with it then it’s difficult. There’s much I admire in France – cities smaller than Leeds with efficient underground railways for example – but France, the oldest of European nations, might be more at ease with itself with a monarch than a political head of state, a person who is usually unpopular because half the country initially opposes them and the other half is quickly disappointed.

A future independent Scotland might become a republic but England, well it should always be the Kingdom of England. Even when we eventually re-join the European family.

From: Janet Berry, Hambleton.

WHAT an absolute mess Brexit has become. Our fishing has been sold down the river, and all the red tape and extensive petty checks and rules are preventing our companies from exporting goods to the EU.

On top of this we have given £13m to the French to stop illegal immigrants who are doing nothing to prevent endless dinghies landing on our shores. Why don’t we police and prevent crossings with our Navy?

Our “friends” in the EU have stitched our politicians up and we have gained nothing. Shameful.

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