Special report: Rebalancing the UK economy – What Brexit means to the North
DELIVERING the Northern Powerhouse vision is more important than ever following the UK’s Brexit vote, according to business leaders across the region.
They stress it is also vital that the North has a place at the table during the negotiations to take the nation out of the European Union.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group said at a round table discussion held at Eversheds’ offices that the Brexit vote made the Northern Powerhouse “absolutely essential.”
He said: “I don’t care what anyone says; Brexit in the medium-term is not good news for the UK, so we need to make these big decisions and get investment moving, just to counter the impact.”
Paul Brodrick, head of connected communities at engineering giant Siemens, which has its head office in Germany, said he believes getting “some certainty” around the Northern Powerhouse and what it actually means will be important in the Brexit future.
“It is something we can focus on in terms of credibility,” he said.
Stephen Miller, managing director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Chester, said that the North and other regions face having their views and needs overlooked during the negotiations.
He warned that the capital’s financial sector has a “very pure laser-like focus” on what it needs to get out of the Brexit deal, adding: “I strongly doubt much consideration will be given to the impact on the rest of the UK.”
He added: “One thing I can guarantee is that if necessary London will let the rest of the UK slide in order to protect what London does well.
“I think we, as a region, need to make sure we are very much on a firm footing to at least have an equal voice in some of those conversations.”
Luke Raikes, Head of Transport at think tank IPPR North, went even further and said that other parts of the country will also have that “laser-like focus.”
“The North needs to be equally focused and it isn’t currently. And we need to have a seat on the table with the Brexit negotiators,” he said.
BAML’s Miller said Scotland and the other countries in the union may well also have separate seats, making it a priority that the North of England has some representation, adding: “If not officially, unofficially London will have a seat at those negotiations as well as the UK government.”