IDEAS FOR THE NORTH AFTER BREXIT.
It’s a shame that SAS (Strong and Stable) Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker can’t stop the trash talking ahead of their Brexit fight. They should learn from the dignified approach of boxers Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko who avoided throwing chairs or making lurid threats against each other but delivered a huge success.
The UK government and the EU officials are as bad as each other. Mrs May’s ministers are adopting an arrogant and ignorant approach to the Brexit talks. But talk of bills escalating now to £100 bn from the European side can only serve to turn public opinion in Britain from a 52/48 divide to 60/40 for Leave. Very depressing.
If we do eventually leave, many questions about the future of the North will need to be answered. Among them are what is going to happen when we lose EU regional development funding and agricultural subsidies?
Common Futures Network (CFN) has been peering into the post Brexit world. It is an independent forum of economists, planners, housing experts, engineers and development interests.
In a report out this weekend they note that while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have developed national frameworks, there is no equivalent for England. The report is right to say that the need to address the “English question” was demonstrated by the sharp divisions shown up last June between towns and big cities and the North and London. The destruction of the Regional Development Agencies and their replacement by hardly visible Local Enterprise Partnerships was exactly the wrong thing to do in my opinion.
The CFN report calls for a new regional development fund to replace the EU structural fund and for a comprehensive deal for England’s regions, in addition to its cities and city-regions. This is the right approach. This weekend newly elected city region mayors are starting their work in Merseyside and Greater Manchester. We must wait to see what they achieve and meanwhile turn our attention to the areas of the North outside these conurbations. The CFN report calls for a comprehensive rural programme, a need to identify new development areas to accommodate a population growth of 9 million by 2040 and a drive to manage the growth of the London megaregion.
Let’s hope the government has time to address these issues whilst it is arm wrestling Mr Juncker after the election.
CANDIDATES SLOTTING INTO PLACE.
Nominations close next week for the General Election and the parties have been rushing to choose candidates. Ironically it has been the Conservatives who’ve had most to do because their constituency chairs believed SAS Theresa May when she said there would be no election until 2020. Opposition parties feared she was fibbing and mostly selected candidates last autumn.
This week has seen Esther McVey become the candidate for Tatton. The constituency never fails to have a high-profile MP. Since Neil Hamilton was kicked out twenty years ago, he’s been followed by Martin Bell, George Osborne and now McVey. How her scouse vowels will go down in the leafy lanes of Knutsford remains to be seen.
Wirral West has made an excellent choice in Knowsley businessman Tony Caldeira who will have no rest from the campaign trail after running for Liverpool City Region Mayor.
Follow me @JimHancockUK