Steve Rotheram says Liverpool city region must have a say in the Brexit process

Labour’s Metro Mayor candidate says city regions must be given a voice as Prime Minister Theresa May lays out her strategy for Britain’s departure from the European Union. Tony McDonough reports.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Labour candidate, Steve Rotheram
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Labour candidate, Steve Rotheram

Labour’s candidate for Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, is to demand that Brexit ministers ensure the interests of Merseyside are “at the heart of their exit strategy”.

His comments came after Prime Minister Theresa May laid out her Brexit strategy and stated clearly that the UK will exit the single market.

She also said the UK would take back control of its its borders, which she said had been impossible with free movement from within Europe.

And she stated that Britain would not stay in the customs union in its current form, but would try to strike a separate deal that would make trading across borders as “frictionless as possible”.

Mayors summit

The PM also promised to give Parliament a say on the final deal but Mr Rotheram, currently Labour MP for Walton, insisted that major city regions such as Liverpool should also have a major say in the Brexit process.

He has met with Brexit minister David Davis at which it was agreed there would be a summit with Metro Mayors following the elections in May.

Mr Rotheram said: “It is welcome news that the Brexit Secretary has agreed to meet in York later this year to discuss the Government’s Brexit plans.

“During our meeting last week I suggested that the North of England, in particular the Liverpool city region, should have a voice at the Government’s negotiating table, as the decision to the leave the EU is likely to define the future of our area for the next generation.

“If I’m elected in May 2017, I will demand that Brexit Ministers ensure full consideration of the interests of our city region are at the heart of their exit strategy, as we cannot afford to allow the 1.5m people across Merseyside and Halton to be left behind again.”

Cautious welcome

Business leaders gave a cautious welcome to the PM’s speech. Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “The Government must now work tirelessly to deliver a comprehensive new trade and customs agreement with the EU.

“As part of that process ministers must listen to businesses and support them in building viable bridges to carry the economy through a carefully managed and orderly transition.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Brexit means the UK will leave the single market
Prime Minister Theresa May says Brexit means the UK will leave the single market

The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said one-in-five of its members were exporters and insisted they needed a “bold and ambitious” free trade agreement with the EU.

Positive for migrants

Mrs May also said the Government was keen strike a deal to guarantee the rights of the 3m EU citizens already living the UK.

This was welcomed by the co-founder of the Merseyside-based Migrant Workers Sefton Community, Eileen Saunders.

She said: “I know this will be received positively by migrant workers situated in Southport who have been anxious for some time about their future prospects.

“Despite the outcome of the Government’s negotiating strategy, we will continue to help and support existing and new migrant workers across the area on a range of issues.

“We hope that Theresa May backs up her words from this morning with real action as it will positively impact on our clients.”

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