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North West core cities: No deal Brexit would be ‘catastrophic’

Liverpool and Manchester have urged all parliamentarians to avoid a “catastrophic” no deal exit from the European Union (EU).

Leaders and mayors of the North West locations were among representatives of the UK Core Cities group to warn of the potential effects in an open letter yesterday (14 March).

The letter stated: “We believe a no deal scenario would be catastrophic for our city economies and therefore the UK. The Core Cities city regions are home to 20 million people and generate 26% of the UK’s economic output.

“They contain over 30% of all the UK’s jobs and are the country’s most significant international centres for trade and distribution outside London, delivering 20” of the UK’s exports.

“A chaotic and unplanned exit from the EU would have severe effects on our city economies and our citizens. The government recently forecast that a no deal exit would shrink the economy by up to 9% over the next 15 years, significantly reduce the flow of goods through Dover and increase food prices and the risk of shortages.

“We argue that the effects of a No Deal would be felt more significantly in cities due to density of population and historically higher levels of deprivation.”

It also pointed out that the nationwide cities would be affected in different ways due to their diverse economies and the range of businesses and workforces they are home to.

The letter went on to explain: “Liverpool is concerned about its thriving university sector, in particular the hurdles that reduced freedom of movement may pose to students who are EU citizens and the future ability of UK universities to participate in EU programmes.

“Manchester is concerned a no deal scenario could impact on passenger numbers at its airport – the busiest outside London – while tech companies in Newcastle are producing their own no deal Brexit plans but are still worried about a number of issues including the level of VAT that may be applied at borders.”

Concerns of other destinations including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield were also raised.

The letter came ahead of a move by MPs in Parliament last night to vote in favour of rejecting a no deal Brexit under any circumstances.

The vote is, however, non-binding and under current law the UK could still leave without a deal on 29 March unless an extension to Article 50 is agreed with the EU.

Addressing the House of Commons after the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed.

“The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is.”

MPs are now set to vote on whether to seek an extension to Article 50 with the EU.