Region needs to prepare for no-deal Brexit ‘downturn’ risk says Leeds Council CEO

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The chief executive of Leeds City Council has said the region needs to prepare for economic risks that may result from a no-deal Brexit.

Tom Riordan said the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a trade deal could bring “upside and downside risks” – but warned the work needed to be done could be comparable to previous economic crises.

Tom Riordan believes plans have to be made.

Tom Riordan believes plans have to be made.

The comments came during a meeting of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Board (LEP), following a report which stated businesses in the region were already stockpiling ingredients and components, such was the uncertainty over Brexit.

A report was also released this week from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) estimating a no-deal Brexit would make the region £12bn a year worse off by 2034, in an economic blow that would hit jobs, livelihoods and living standards.

Mr Riordan told the meeting: “There is obviously a chance of a no-deal exit. We are working at a local level to prepare for that eventuality. It is incredibly complex and challenging, and is linking into national work that is being done from Whitehall.

“There is a risk potentially – there are obviously upside risks but there are downside risks as well – and it would make sense for us to work (towards a) plan for a downturn and what the LEP might need to do.

“If we were to get businesses with challenged circumstances, if schemes were stalling, (we’d need to look at) the issue of liquidity in the system, and helping people to redeploy for jobs – the stuff we did after the last crash.

“It’s not to scaremonger, it’s not to predict anything will happen, it’s just to plan sensibly for eventualities. The local authorities have started work, and I think it would be good for them to connect with that.”

Another vote on a possible EU withdrawal agreement is expected to take place later this month, following the Prime Minister’s historic 230-vote defeat last week.