'Where there's muck, there's brass’ - Yorkshire can prosper in opportunities provided by Brexit, Wakefield MP says

The UK leaving the EU is “not the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new chapter”, according to one of Yorkshire’s most strident Brexiteers, as he said a “national priority” for the next four years must be strengthening the UK’s position for future negotiations.

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan said the Government would need to employ a wartime spirit to encourage and support businesses in trading globally in order to reduce dependence on the EU and put the UK in the strongest possible position for renegotiating the relationship in four years time.

And he said the break now would herald in a new era, and now was simply “the very first part of Britain’s new journey”.

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“The Brexit thing isn’t just about Brexit,” he said. “It’s about pride, honour, and respect, and it’s about rebalancing the relationship between state and citizen.”

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Imran Ahmad Khan

Conservative Mr Ahmad Khan praised a clause in the deal which meant that in four years, either the European Union or the UK Government could bring the agreement to an end if they are not happy with the arrangements.

But it could also allow negotiation on specific points that ministers may not have been completely happy with this time around.

And Mr Ahmad Khan said that if before 2024 the UK could “rebalance” trade activity to bring the UK’s trade dependency on Europe down from 49 per cent and for businesses to look more globally, it would put the country in a far stronger position.

“We would then have the whip hand that the EU has enjoyed in these negotiations, it would immediately pass to us, and ours would be the hand above and there’s below for the very first time,” he said.

“If we can just get it down from 49 per cent to the low 40s - which is huge in terms of value - but if we can do that with America, and Canada, the Commonwealth, the Far East, then in the rebalancing negotiations in four years time rather than just being a fig leaf and nothing having changed - which is what the European Union is banking on - then we can really go to town on all those things we have had to hold our nose on slightly.”

He said while the cost of borrowing was low, the Government could look at providing “real support, advice, structures, and infrastructure to businesses so they can find new markets”, and he said it should be “a national effort, like a war campaign - like we’re doing now with Covid - it should be our number one priority”.

He added: “If we look at this as we’ve got four years to really sort ourselves out, it’s a huge opportunity, and that’s one of the reasons I voted with such alacrity and joy.

“If this was a deal we were going to be stuck with forever, there might have been some real serious concerns, but as we got that brilliant, hard-fought-for rebalancing provision, there is no concern.”

Mr Ahmad Khan said for Yorkshire, the potential was rife in manufacturing and in services..

He said: “In Yorkshire we say ‘where there's muck there's brass’, and a Yorkshire man or lass understands opportunity, and this is why we’re world beaters, and we’ve got the heritage, the ability, and basically as well that little sense of adventure where we’re willing to go out and make something out of ourselves.

“You don’t find many snobs in Yorkshire, you find people who are do-ers.

“Our future will be as brilliant as our past is glorious, because I honestly do believe that we have the basic thing, the building block that makes us super competitive and super brilliant as a nation but particularly as a region is our people.

“They are grounded, solid, strivers who see a problem and look for solutions. It is this region and our belief in ourselves and wanting a better world, and that’s what is going to allow us to capture all the opportunity and the potential that Britain has unleashed now from Brexit.”

Morley and Outwood Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns, who co-ordinated Vote Leave for Yorkshire MPs, also said there was a “new dawn” for the country.

She said: “When Theresa May didn’t seem to be delivering, I was the first Conservative MP to ask for her resignation and a fresh approach in the negotiations.

“I was made to feel very awkward by some of my colleagues who didn’t agree with my outspoken style in fighting for the democratic will of the people to be delivered. But we have a PM in Boris Johnson who believes in Brexit and the opportunities it will present us with.”

She said: “He has now secured the most ambitious trade deal with a third country the EU has ever made, guaranteeing zero-tariffs and zero-quotas trade in goods, giving certainty and great opportunity to our businesses.

“We will truly take control of our borders and of our laws, terminating the jurisdiction in the UK of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

She added: “There has been a lot of tension on both sides, but now it’s the time to work together in friendship under this new arrangement. We are now free to determine our own destiny and to trade around the world.

“It’s now time for all of us in our country to come together, unite and heal the past divisions.”