Sir Keir Starmer says crashing out of EU without a Brexit deal will hit Sunderland hard
Sir Keir Starmer has said failure to reach a Brexit deal with the European Union will hit Sunderland’s economy hard.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union is visiting the region for two days as he gathers views on the issue and its impact on the area’s economy.
In Sunderland – where the majority of voters chose to back a departure from the EU – he visited the North East Business Innovation Centre (Bic) in Hylton Riverside where he addressed business representatives from across the North East, before he went on to a gathering of other members of the North East Chamber of Commerce at the Hilton Garden Hotel and then Austrian crane builder Liebherr in Deptford.
While addressing the audience at the Q&A at the Bic, he told delegates he expects a general election will be called before Christmas and warned it would be economies such as the North East which will be worst hit if no deal is struck.
Businesses highlighted issues including the impact uncertainty has had on companies and questions over future infrastructure, while Sir Keir said he was very aware Brexit had taken over Government business, leaving other matters such as health care and education behind.
He said he believed the prorogation of Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson was carried out to stop Parliament from halting a no deal scenario, voicing frustration that it came at a key time when it “should be sitting every day” to find a resolution.
He said: “I don’t genuinely think he’s going for a deal.
“There is no proposal on the table and you can’t negotiate a deal when you’re putting nothing on the table.
“It will be a massive problem if we get to the end of October if Boris Johnson has to take us out without a deal.
”I think it will have huge implications for the economy of the UK, particularly the regions, there will be a lot of impact locally.
“It’s the same old story, and the impact of a no deal will have its biggest impact on areas affected most by what’s gone on for the last 10, 20, 30 years.”
Speaking to the Echo after the discussion, he said: “It’s been really fantastic talking to different communities, different businesses, and my message is I want to hear what you have got to say and we are right in the middle of that conversation.
“The worst thing that could happen is a no deal Brexit because that will be so disruptive to the trade and economy and it will hit places like Sunderland harder than other places and a lot of people in Sunderland feel like they have been hit hard enough already, thanks very much, and don’t want that.
“The best case scenario is that we sort this mess out and we move on.
“People are yearning and want to get on, they know that we haven’t talked about the health service, rail, education, public services, so we have got to sort this out, so we have got to stop no deal and fix this.”
Chief executive of the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Paul McEldon said: “As a hub for North East businesses we were very pleased to welcome Sir Keir Starmer to the BIC.
“It was extremely valuable to hear the chamber’s members voicing their concerns and comments about the future economic prosperity of the North East.”
The chamber’s Jack Simpson added: “We were really pleased to welcome Sir Keir Starmer to hear what businesses had to say and hear the latest on Brexit negotiations.”