Boris Johnson hails bright future for North East after Brexit as he jibes 'unreasonable' EU
The ‘green industrial revolution’ was the Prime Minister’s focus as he visited a key site in the North East.
Boris Johnson also tried to offer reassurances to North East residents on Covid-19 – both in terms of the region’s status in tier three and on the vaccine rollout – and on Brexit, with a no-deal scenario looking increasingly likely, and where he claimed ‘our EU friends are being a little bit unreasonable, more than a little bit unreasonable’.
A year on from the General Election, he was in one of the constituencies to turn blue, as he visited the ORE Catapult turbine testing centre in Blyth, where he learned about the facility’s contribution to the offshore wind industry and met apprentices.
“It’s been amazing to come here and see the Catapult,” Mr Johnson said. “This is the future not just for the UK, but for jobs and growth here in the North East.”
Suggesting many people in the country don’t appreciate the potential for the industry, he added: “The opportunities are huge, for high-tech, high-skilled, high-wage jobs here in the North East for a long, long time to come; many, many thousands and jobs that bring the real satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something to make the world better.”
His visit coincided with the announcement that the former Blyth power station site has been chosen by Britishvolt for its proposed gigaplant to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), a planned £2.6billion investment which would bring 3,000 direct jobs with the potential for a further 5,000 in the supply chain.
“It’s part of our green industrial revolution,” Mr Johnson said. “In our 10-point plan, becoming the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’ is one objective, but giga-factories for EVs is another point in the plan. It’s great that it looks very much as though Britishvolt is going to go ahead with this site, it’s fantastic news.”
‘Change always brings opportunity’
The Prime Minister was also challenged on Brexit, with a no-deal scenario looking increasingly likely and a deadline of Sunday (December 13) to see if a deal can be struck.
“The North East is already the biggest net exporting region in the whole UK and has got an amazing future whatever trading arrangements we have with the EU,” he said.
“I think there’s a big opportunity for companies to think not just in European terms – where markets will remain open and our markets will remain open to our European friends – but also more globally.
“In the North East, I see a region which, yes, has had a knock-back from Covid, as we all have, but I think can bounce back very strongly. What we’re going to do is continue with our agenda of uniting and levelling up.”
He added: “One thing I would stress is whatever your business, it’s vital that whether it’s Canada or Australia (style trading agreements), we have to get ready, because there will be change coming.”