Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, will today state the case that the English regions have a permanent seat at the table as the UK government undertakes the process of leaving the EU.
In a keynote speech at the Local Government Association later, Burnham will call for the establishment of a cabinet committee for metro mayors alongside other British regions and nations, bringing the regions into line with the UK’s devolved nations and overseas territories.
Burnham is expected to say: “Brexit has major implications for Greater Manchester and the rest of the English regions. We must ensure that our interests are heard and protected. 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.
“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.”
Burnham has written to David Davis, secretary of state at the Department for Exiting the EU, outlining his request and calling for government to make good on pre-General Election promises:
“You will recall a commitment you made back in January to bring together and consult the newly elected Mayors on the specific needs of their regions. It is disappointing that, two months on from the mayoral elections, this meeting still has not happened.”
Burnham’s letter addresses three points he outlines as critical to Greater Manchester in the post-Brexit landscape: the formation of a place-based national industrial strategy; that the expansion of Manchester Airport should be facilitated; and that government should ensure that the UK has access to its €39bn European Investment Bank capital, or should distribute that capital.
Sir Richard Leese, deputy mayor and portfolio lead for business and the economy, 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.”