Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TeesValley Mayor Slams Brexit Criticism

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TeesValley Mayor Slams Brexit Criticism

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHON MANNING Reporter jonathon.manning@reachplc.com @JONNYAMANNING

TEES Valley mayor Ben Houchen has slammed a leading North East busi ness group for criticising the Government's approach to Brex it.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Eng land Chamber of Commerce, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May explaining that businesses were "exasperat ed" by the handling of the Brexit negotiations and the lack of information given to firms about their progress.

The Chamber's intervention came after a series of big busi nesses warned that lack of cer tainty around Brexit could see them taking investment out of the UK and put thousands of jobs at risk.

But Mr Houchen, a long-time supporter of Brexit, has con demned Mr Ramsbotham's comments, claiming he is "dis appointed" with the Chamber's approach.

Mr Houchen said: "The fact is, in Teesside we have some of the world's most innovative businesses and they are ready for the improved international trading opportunities that Brexit will bring. That is what the people of the TeesValley and the wider North East voted for.

"We will not accept a partial Brexit, half-Brexit, or soft Brexit, which will leave us subject to the undemocratic whims of the Brussels establishment.

"The EU is a declining protec tionist trade bloc and as an exporting region we need trade deals with fast-growing emerg ing economies beyond the shores of Europe, if our econo my is going to grow."

The Conservative Mayor has long backed the Government's approach to Brexit, and recently wrote to all of Teesside's MPs urging them to reject a House of Lords amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill. The amend ment demanded that a final vote be carried out on the final deal to leave the EU.

Mr Ramsbotham declined to reply to Mr Houchen's com ments.

But Redcar MP Anna Turnley has backed the Chamber CEO's comments, saying that it was "very worrying" that businesses are being excluded from the negotiations.

She said: "Europe is our big gest market and the Govern ment's own analysis has shown our region could be hit by a min imum of 11%, even if we get a trade deal. …

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