Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL BENNEWORTH

IN the last month, my sleep patterns have slowly returned to normal. I kept waking up in a cold sweat fearing the Article 50 notification leading the UK out of the EU.

With a closure of the UK's borders, it could irrevocably change the north east for the worse.

Without Single Market access, foreign manufacturing investment would dry up. Manufacturing was always, according to Brexit's House Economist Patrick Minford, a sacrifice worth making to get back 'sovereignty'.

A new visa regime would turn the screw on regional universities by restricting foreign student numbers. And without free movement, universities would be banished from the European research programmes which bring tens of millions - and hundreds of highly skilled jobs - to the region.

Brexit would bring victory to the Scottish Nats' second independence referendum. And that threatens the return of a hard border to north Northumberland for the first time in centuries as the Scots seek to stabilise their fragile new economy and placate their new European partners.

There'll be no new money for the NHS, and kicking out thousands of European NHS staff would create an existential threat for British healthcare. So expect a rapid shift to rationing via an American-style health insurance system with eye-watering premiums and bankruptcies routine after now-standard operations.

We can forget any pretensions for Northern Powerhouse or even a decent regional policy promoting decent regional jobs; it was the EU that forced Whitehall to invest billions in the North East in recent decades.

Left to their own devices the Tories and Whitehall would focus on London's Technology Roundabout (really!) or whatever hip craze follows it. In short, Brexit would be an unfettered disaster for everyone in the North East who gets sick, draws a pension, wants to study, wants to work or wants to be in the United Kingdom.

But events in the last month are making our departure from the EU less rather than more likely. First was new Conservative leader Theresa May's appointments to the Brexit departments. …

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