Opportunities for investment and devolution in the North of England must not be allowed to become casualties of any increased wave of austerity in the wake of Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.
Key figures of local government and industry used yesterday’s Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda summit to state that the uncertainty and political fall-out from last Thursday’s vote must not be used as an excuse to allow the plans brought about under the outgoing occupants of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street to be placed on the back burner.
The event, hosted at the Leeds offices of law firm DLA Piper, was also told by one of China’s top diplomats to the UK that his country remained extremely interested in investing in the North of England and that the vote to leave the EU did not mean a negation of investment opportunities in the UK for the world’s second biggest economy.
Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan was equally bullish, saying: “HS2 cannot become a casualty of any next phase of austerity. We need to make sure now that the tremors that are going through the economy now do not translate into the shocks we saw in 2007 and 2008.
“In this city we had a plan, even if Whitehall didn’t. We have held meetings with the chamber with the LEP, with FSB, and with key business organisations.
“If anyone thought the Northern Powerhouse initiative was something that belonged to David Cameron and George Osborne and that if they go it goes, I have to say I believe the opposite.
“It is almost impossible for an incoming PM and chancellor to turn away from the North of England. We have got to be part of any person who wants to be elected’s plans.”