SHARON HODGSON: City’s voice must be heard in Brexit talks

Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May
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In my last column for the Sunderland Echo, I wrote about the need for us to get the best deal possible out of the EU exit negotiations and the importance of local elected representatives listening and learning from the referendum vote to ensure the voices of the people of Sunderland are heard loud and clear in the coming months and years ahead.

Now that we have a new Cabinet in place, which is led by our second female Prime Minister, Theresa May, it is now time for politicians to hold her and her government to account on the upcoming negotiations. This is especially true of the three key Cabinet positions of Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Secretary of State for International Trade; which are all occupied by key Brexiteers.

That is why last week I welcomed the launch of a public consultation by the North East’s two Labour MEPs, Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brennan, who are planning to engage with business leaders, universities, civil society, trade unions and community groups and most importantly, ordinary people, to understand what they want to come out of the EU exit negotiations.

This consultation will be important to allow the voices of people here in Sunderland, and across the North-East, to be heard by those in Whitehall and Brussels, especially when it is unclear exactly what will come of these negotiations.

This is even more concerning when only hours after the result was announced for us to leave the EU, that those leading Leave campaigners reneged on some of their key campaign promises, such as the additional funding to the NHS, and since then have sadly been unable to outline what a post-Brexit Britain would look like, on policy such as worker’s rights and if we will remain in the single market or not.

It is clear that we face uncertain times and protracted negotiations; however, it is important that we all come together and make sure that our City’s voice is heard and the fragile economic prosperity we have seen is not weakened further by this Tory Government failing to recognise the support the people of our City need to thrive.

I hope as many Wearsiders as possible will get involved in Jude’s and Paul’s consultation, and will visit the Plan for The North East website here: http://www.northeastlabour.eu/plan and take part in the consultation’s survey so we can try and ensure that this government can get the best outcome for the people of Sunderland and deliver on what the Leave campaign promised for Brexit.