Leeds needs the ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal Boris Johnson promised - YEP letters

FROM: Richard Wilson, Chairman, Leeds for Europe

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 6:00 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

You invite Chancellor of the Exchequer and Yorkshire MP Rishi Sunak to “do the maths” on £750 million proposals to create 70,000 jobs (Yorkshire Evening Post, August 25).

If not, 58,000 jobs could disappear as part of a £12 billion Covid-19 hit to the local economy.

The sums are actually more complicated. You also need to factor in the prospect of an economic double-whammy – virus plus No-Deal Brexit equals even worse.

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A recent report by the Social Market Foundation found that 109,000 jobs in Leeds could be impacted by Brexit – due to the importance of manufacturing and finance to our city.

That is based on a worst-case scenario in which we exit the EU completely in December with no new trading arrangements in place.

But given how badly the latest round of UK-EU talks ended last week, that is more than possible.

The Government may have finally woken up to this.

It was reported at the weekend we could see Channel Islands air drops, Cod War-style navy interventions, troops on the street and fuel shortages - all at the same time as a possible second virus wave.

Again, the Government calls these threats “reasonable worst-case scenario” planning. But until recently it would have dismissed them as “Project Fear”.

The bare-bones World Trade Organisation rules we would be left with if there is no deal are not the panacea some, who think us gullible, claim.

In the same edition, you raise the idea of freeports (‘Freeport plan may unlock the key to prosperity’).

We tried them while in the EU and some members still have them. Results are mixed. The opportunity to try again is not a Brexit benefit.

Yes, in the long-term, we need to invest in new jobs.

But do not lose sight of a looming but still avoidable potential disaster.

We need the “oven-ready” deal Boris Johnson promised.