Northern Powerhouse is at stake in EU Referendum – Osborne

CHANCELLOR George Osborne has said the future of the Northern Powerhouse is “on the ballot paper” in the European Union Referendum on June 23.

Mr Osborne used the platform of the opening day of the International Business Festival 2016 at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool to deliver his passionate “remain” message.

The Chancellor also used his speech to champion the concept of the Northern cities working together to create prosperity to help rebalance the UK economy.

“We’re not having this festival in London or in the places you might have expected in the past,” he told delegates. “We’re having it here because there are a lot of exciting things happening in the North of England now.

“And in the last two years, we’ve really taken this idea of and Northern Powerhouse and put rocket boosters under it.

He went on: “We’ve got commitments to bold new transport projects, upgrades of existing roads like the M62, new powerful high speed train links, linking us, not just to the South and the continent, but across the Pennines.
“There are also air links. We’re celebrating the fact that at Manchester Airport just a few days ago, the first direct flight to Beijing took off.

“Those are all part of bringing the North of England together, making the whole bigger than the individual parts and making sure it punches above its weight as an economic powerhouse.”

He said that since the Northern Powerhouse initiative was launched, investment projects in the North had increased by more than 127%, compared to 7% in London.

But he followed this up by saying the referendum vote would be “the most important decision you are asked to make as citizens of this country”.

“It is more than important than any General Election or any other election,” he said. “This is a huge decision about our country’s future.

“This is a celebration of business – it’s all about Britain doing more business around the world and in my judgement there is a very bright future for us in a reformed European Union where we are trading and selling more into this enormous market on our doorstep.
“There are 500 million people in the single market. On the course we’re on we can see more than 120,000 new jobs created here in the North of England, in the next few years.
“But I have to tell you, as Chancellor for the last six years, if we vote to quit the EU, then that will be at risk.

“The investment won’t come here, the trade won’t be as much and the new analysis shows that 120,000 jobs in the North of England will be at risk if we quite the EU.
“There will be huge uncertainty. We’ve had the president of the European Council say today that it will take two years to exit the EU, five years to negotiate a new relationship at least with our closest trading partners.

“What does that mean for all the businesses here? What does it mean for international business? It means things are put on hold, there’s a lot of uncertainty. People aren’t hired, perhaps people are fired.

“Decisions don’t go ahead, investment deals aren’t done. Why would we want visit that uncertainty upon ourselves?

“Let’s not risk it. Let’s go for a positive vision of who are as country, who we’ve always been as a country.

“We’re people who reach out around the world, who shape the world, rather than be shaped by the world. That is the future at stake when we vote on June 23. The Northern Powerhouse is on the ballot paper.
“Our future as an open, trading successful, prosperous nation, I believe is on the ballot paper. I think we’ll be a lot stronger, safer and better off if we vote to remain.”

IFB2016 runs until July 1.