Skip to content
Join us

Don’t use the North East as a sound bite


Jack Simpson's column from the Journal

Since Boris Johnson took over as Prime Minister, the Brexit process has gradually ground to a halt. He has been steadfast that we will leave the EU on October 31st while Parliament has always been committed against a disorderly No Deal.

It has come to such a point that something, anything, had to budge. And so, in the six-month extension we were warned not to waste, we are now entering the footings of a Christmas election.

Yet, I am unconvinced this will completely break the Brexit deadlock.

The Liberal Democrats and Brexit party will certainly fancy their chances to take a seat off the two major parties, and the SNP will look to push on in Scotland. Therefore, we could see a more fragmented Parliament than we have now, even if one party comes out with a majority.

But let’s say a party emerges with a majority; from this they push through a Withdrawal Agreement and we move on to phase two of negotiations.

This will be focused on the future European (and partners) trade relationship, and debates on how the UK will trade, invest, migrate and fundamentally see its own role in the world will emerge.

This will place some serious stress on whatever Government, and if they don’t have some form of commanding support, we could see a similarly divided House, only this time we will be legally bound to leave under the then passed Withdrawal Agreement.

All the while, in the big gamble to find the meaning to Brexit, business will be facing the extremes of uncertainty, and having cried wolf on a No Deal Brexit for a second time, a new Government must work with business to rule out No Deal and find put forward its deal plans from the start.

But let’s not ignore the other key issues facing the regional economy. The Conservatives pledged in 2017 to close the gap between London and other regions- but you’d be forgiven for feeling its further than ever.

The North East should be seen as an asset, a potential trade engine to the national economy. We outperform in exports and investment, have cheaper and better ways of living, yet central policy planning has stifled regional growth.

Brexit will be the main feature of this election, but it would be a welcome change for parties to see the region for its raw potential, rather than a campaign soundbite.