Council deputy leader says scale of impact is now apparent
THE impact of Brexit on Birmingham will be ‘so huge’ that the people must be given a second chance to vote on it, the city council’s deputy leader has argued.
Cllr Brigid Jones chaired the independent Brexit Commission which has just published its 92-page analysis on what effect leaving the European Union will likely have on the Second City and the West Midlands.
She stated the long-awaited document has now laid bare the negative impact and strengthened the case for a second-referendum on Theresa May’s deal, should Parliament approve it.
The report outlines numerous key areas of ‘exposure’ with particular concerns for the car manufacturing and aerospace industries, social care workers and EU funding for the region.
It also contains specific examples including the ‘significant disruption’ anticipated at the wholesale markets due to the number of lorries from Europe they receive every day.
Cllr Jones said: “My view is Brexit will be bad for the region.
“The council has adopted a position that if Theresa May can’t get her deal through Parliament we should have a general election and if she does get it through we should actually have a second referendum on that deal, because the impact will be so huge. “An awful lot wasn’t available referendum. “Nobody had really done that analysis on the automotive sector, for example, or the fact that one in ten of our registered nurses comes from the EU, all of these issues, that level of regional analysis hadn’t been done. “I think the risks to jobs of some of those things collapsing hadn’t been fully understood. “Now, if people knowing all of this information still genuinely want to leave the EU fine, but I think given that information and given we are now clearer on what leaving the EU might mean, people should be given the opportunity in the West Midlands to come back and say whether that is what they really want. “Lots of the promises the Leave campaign have made have just fallen apart. “I think it is too big of an impact for people not to be given a second say.” of this information at the time of the
Cllr Jones also heavily criticised the government, claiming they had not consulted with the West Midlands over Brexit, stating the region’s economic output is bigger than 13 of the EU member states including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.
She said: “What is unique about the West Midlands is that first you need to understand our scale.
“If we were an EU member state in our own right, we’d have a bigger population than nine other countries, have a bigger economy than 13 member states; we are talking massive.
“And the government has not consulted the leaders of the core cities, the biggest cities around the UK, they have not been consulted on Brexit or engaged by the UK government at all.
“The leader Ian Ward (of BCC) and the leaders of the other core cities had to go and see Michel Barnier (the EU’s Brexit negotiator) themselves because Theresa May refused to meet them to discuss how Brexit might be going.
“If you consider the economic areas that the core cities lead, consider their size compared to other nations that have seats at the table and think about the fact that our leaders have not been asked at all by our own government, that is actually quite staggering. These are huge, huge areas and economies.”
Cllr Ward is now in the process of highlighting the findings of the impact reports in letters to the region’s MPs.
Council departments are now being briefed on the analysis in preparation for Britain leaving the EU at the end of March.
The report will also be the subject of a full council debate in January.
Meanwhile, a study published by the Government has indicated the West Midlands will be poorer under Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal than if we stayed in the EU.
The Government’s paper shows that the West Midlands economy will be up to two per cent smaller if Mrs May’s deal goes through.
It compares the size of the region’s economy to what would happen if we remained in the EU.
But it doesn’t mean the region will actually become poorer than it is now. The economy will still grow, but more slowly than if Brexit was cancelled.
The figure of two per cent is the worst case scenario under Mrs May’s proposals. In the best case, the region’s economy would be 0.4 per cent smaller than if we stayed in.
However, leaving the EU without a deal would make a huge impact on the economy, according to the Government’s forecasts – and it would be almost nine per cent smaller than if we simply stayed in the EU, within 15 years of Brexit taking place.