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Chamber chief executive sets out North East business views in letter to Boris Johnson

 

Read about the main points which are covered in the letter.

"There can rarely have been a more important time for Government to listen to, and take heed of, the views of businesses.

"The uncertainty generated by the Brexit process has had a significant impact on business confidence in our region, with tangible effects now being felt in the economy. For three years, our members have been in paralysis over Brexit, resulting in delays to investment, relocations overseas and lower levels of workforce growth.

"We have been clear and consistent in our view that securing a Brexit outcome that retains the current level of access and frictionless trade with the European Union ought to be the Government’s overriding priority.

"We are also absolutely clear that a No Deal outcome cannot, and should not, be considered a credible outcome to these Brexit negotiations. The legitimisation of No Deal as an option during the recent leadership campaign has brushed aside the tremendous disruption and negative impact it would have on so many of our businesses; especially those involved in complex international supply chains.

"North East England relies on the European Union as a destination for 63% of its exports and is a significant recipient of European funding. It therefore should not come as a surprise that, time and again, the North East is shown by respected analysis to be the region most vulnerable to a No Deal Brexit.

"Our Regional Council have instructed us to judge whatever future relationship is agreed with the European Union by the current arrangements we have as EU members. In 2016, the business and voters of the North East were promised a better future outside of the European Union, so we must use this as our benchmark.

"I would like to point out that the 2017 Conservative Manifesto on which you stood declared closing the economic performance gap between London and the rest of the UK to be the “biggest prize in Britain today”. A disorderly Brexit would not only keep this prize out of reach, it has the real potential to widen this gap yet further.

"The views and expertise of those who know what it takes to build global businesses have been dismissed far too often during the Brexit process. Now, more than ever, it is essential that Government re-engages with regional businesses; understands their concerns and desires for future trading relationships and commits to securing a Brexit outcome that supports, rather than hinders, the growth and prosperity of North East England.

"We stand ready to support that engagement and urge you to work with our members and others like them to provide certainty, stability and a long-term relationship with the European Union that builds upon the hard work of our great exporting businesses."