Keir Starmer, Shadow Minister for Leaving the EU visited the North East on Friday to speak with local people and businesses about what Brexit means to them.
Joined by local MP Phil Wilson and Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, Mr Starmer’s first stop was in Newton Aycliffe where he visited the new Hitachi factory. This was followed by a round table with local businesses, the TUC, and North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling at the XCEL Centre in Newton Aycliffe. The purpose, of which, was to provides businesses with the opportunity to inform Mr Starmer what Brexit meant to their businesses and what they hoped Brexit would be.
From the discussion came two messages from businesses, the first was that there is little appetite for hard Brexit, the second being the need for certainty in the coming months and years. Businesses were clear, they want to know what to expect from the Government’s Brexit negotiations, so they can plan for the future.
Following the round-table, there was a quick visit to Steam Machine Brewery in Newton Aycliffe, where owner Nick Smith, a former Chemistry Teacher, said that the fall in the pound has raked up costs. An example of which, is the 50% price rise for plastic kegs imported from Holland, which the Steam Machine use. The final stop of Mr Starmer’s visit was in Darlington, where he met with local members to again discuss what Brexit means to them.
Whilst Mr Starmer is adamant he respects and accepts the outcome of the referendum, he was unrelenting in his demand for the Government to provide more clarity on their position. A demand the Government yesterday bowed to, as they announced they would publish a plan before Article 50 is triggered, starting the legal process of leaving the EU.
Speaking to the Northern Echo on Friday, Keir Starmer said;
‘We need a reality check here.’
‘In 120 days from now Article 50 will be triggered and the Government will begin negotiating our exit from the EU.’
‘They are veering from one position to another, but they are running out of time.’
‘They need to settle their plan and then disclose it.’
‘There are two very different futures that could follow from the Government’s starting position.’
‘One is that hard Brexit, more extreme Brexit, which would be very damaging to the economy; the other is to favour a more collaborative and cooperative approach.’
Adding to this, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said;
‘It is important that we know what Brexit means to our constituents and to businesses to ensure we get the Brexit they want, and the Brexit that works for them.’
‘This is no easy task, but the Government’s inability to make a decision, and the constant flip-flopping is not making the process any easier.’
‘Businesses want clarity. They want to know what to expect, so they can plan for it.’
**Mr Wilson is holding a Brexit surgery on Friday 9th December between 3pm – 6pm. If you would like to make an appointment please call 01325 321603 or email email@example.com if you are unable to make the surgery but would like to share your opinion on the issue of the UK leaving the EU with Mr Wilson, please complete the following survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XR7KLCM **