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May is told Brexit negotiators ‘must listen to the voice of the West Midlands’

May is told Brexit negotiators ‘must listen to the voice of the West Midlands’

🕔19.Sep 2016

Labour mayoral hopeful Siôn Simon is urging the Prime Minister to “listen to the distinctive voice of the West Midlands” when negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union.

In a letter to Theresa May, Mr Simon demanded a commitment that the people and businesses of the West Midlands will not be worse off as a result of Brexit.

If Mr Simon is elected metro mayor next May he will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority, consisting of the region’s council leaders. He asked the Prime Minister to confirm that WMCA will take on a formal role in Brexit negotiations immediately before transferring responsibilities to the mayor next year.

He has also asked for firm clarification regarding the duties and obligations of David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, to the West Midlands and what advanced planning will be put in place for the West Midlands ahead of triggering Article 50.

Mr Simon said:

I’m asking the Prime Minister for assurances for the West Midlands – I want a commitment from Government that throughout its negotiations it will ensure that the people and businesses of the West Midlands will not be worse off as a result of Brexit.

As I said in my letter – the distinctive voice of the West Midlands needs to be heard as loudly and clearly as other parts of the UK – and given equal weight.

The output of the West Midlands economy is actually larger than a number of EU Member States – such as Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Each of those countries holds a veto over whatever Brexit terms are proposed, but there is little formal mechanism for putting forward the views and concerns of the West Midlands.

It is clear to me that the West Midlands Combined Authority needs to take on a formal role in representing the West Midlands in Brexit negotiations up to May – and then it should fall to the Mayor take on this role – to ensure that any deal represents the best deal for people and businesses in the West Midlands – for manufacturing, for transport and for Higher Education.

Mr Simon released his letter as the contest for West Midlands mayor began to gather pace.

Tory businessman Andy Street, MD at John Lewis, launched his campaign to be mayor by promising to deliver an economic renaissance to the West Midlands. He is backed by Lord Digby Jones who will not be standing for the role as he had previously suggested. 

Liberal Democrat Beverley Nielsen is the third candidate to declare so far for the mayoral election on 4th May 2017.

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