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The potential effects of Brexit on the Northern Powerhouse

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 4 minutes

Ever since, the country voted Brexit over a month ago, there has been a lot of talk about how it will affect the country. Everything from the financial sector to the housing market, the NHS to schools has been discussed in length.

The Northern Powerhouse was one of George Osborne’s and David Cameron’s flagship policies when they were in power. However, since the Brexit vote and both of them have left Downing Street, it’s future is in doubt. This is to the annoyance and impatience of many from the North of England.

There have been many articles written over the last month, regarding the Northern Powerhouse. Some look at how the project may stagnate or be faded out, others are more optimistic. Many assume money will be cut from the project and many think the project will be abandoned altogether. Some think regardless of what happens, trade will slow for companies in the North and beyond, especially to the EU.

The fall in the pound the day after the Brexit vote, from which it has never fully recovered, means our goods cost less on the open market. This is good news for businesses exporting to the EU or other international markets. However, it bad news for those importing goods as they are now more expensive for them.

Many of these businesses are situated in the North, specifically the North East exporting food and other products to the EU regularly. The potential loss of that kind of business could be devastating for the area and the companies involved. The prospect of us leaving has put a strain on some of the relationships and the agreements already in place.

However, it is not just the potential loss of business that could affect the area. The loss of funding from the EU for regeneration, arts and other projects could be huge. However, the current thinking is money saved from no longer paying our EU membership fee will go to the projects and sectors that would lose their EU funding.

Over the years, the EU has provided many Northern towns and cities with a lot of money to improve themselves. The Northern towns and cities have benefitted from this investment and are obviously very keen for this investment to continue in whatever form that takes.

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If funding and trade were lost, without replacement funds from Government, it would be a huge hit to the North. However, the likelihood of that happening sounds slim after recent comments from Government Ministers claiming to support the project.

Investment and trade deals need to be secured or replaced for these areas to stop them from falling into trouble. This seems like it is a big priority for the current Government. As they try to ensure continued trade with the EU and are looking to countries further afield.

Desperate and determined for the scheme not to become another slogan, like the Big Society, politicians such as Andy Burnham have spoken out about the importance of the Northern Powerhouse for our country. 

These politicians argue that now is the time to be investing in the North and the Northern Powerhouse needs to go ahead now more than ever. They say we need a prosperous North with great transport links, modern businesses, good housing for residents and investment in culture to help our country.

They feel the North, as well as Wales, the South West etc, need to be Westminster’s priority now. Focussing on these areas and not the prosperous areas of London and the South East.

To safeguard the country from recession and further economic instability, politicians of whatever colour need to make sure our country is as strong and financially sound as possible. This is especially important if we are going to cut ourselves off from the single market. As this is something that is not guaranteed we will be able to be part of post-Brexit.

The North does lag behind in terms of investment, jobs, transport, housing, social mobility and more. It is an area of the country that needs intense investment over the next few years. The fulfilling of the Northern Powerhouse with money poured into the North would increase our country’s overall productivity and output (GDP).

The North is a big and potentially lucrative area of the country that for a long time has been neglected, falling behind the South.

Regardless of what our new Government decides about Brexit and invoking Article 50, many people and business leaders see the Northern Powerhouse as an important policy to remember.

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