Mayor Andy Burnham demands a bigger role for English regions in negotiations
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will today demand that English regions be handed a ‘permanent seat at the Brexit table’ to ensure negotiations are not dominated by the interests of the capital.
In a speech to be given to the Local Government Association on Wednesday, Burnham will question the logic behind granting small British overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands – which has a population smaller than Bury – a seat at the negotiating table whilst denying major UK regions such as Greater Manchester.
In a letter written to Brexit Secretary David Davis, Burnham has proposed the establishment of a cabinet committee - which elected Metro Mayors and regional representatives would be invited to attend – to put English regions on ‘equal footing’ with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and UK territories.
Earlier this year Davis assured the House of Commons that he would meet with newly elected Metro Mayors to discuss their specific regional needs. However, more than two weeks after formal Brexit negotiations began in Brussels and no such meeting has taken place.
“If the Government fails to listen to our concerns it will raise fears that we are heading towards a London-centric Brexit dominated by the City of London and the financial services industry,” says Burnham.
“It cannot be right that Britain’s overseas territories, such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, have a permanent seat at the Brexit table whilst we are denied one. Greater Manchester is ready to play our part and make a constructive contribution to the process of leaving the European Union.
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese added:
“We need to ensure that our interests are protected, from our world-class academic university research facilities, to our manufacturing industries, our creative sector, and our voluntary and community sectors.
“We also need to send out the message that we are still an outward-looking international city where people of different backgrounds, including the European citizens who have based themselves here, feel welcome.
“Greater Manchester’s relationship with Europe is necessary for the success, not just of our region, but for the whole of the UK.”