Coun­cil deputy leader says scale of im­pact is now ap­par­ent

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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.

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