Bid to protect Siemens' business from Brexit fails - but Hull MPs vow to keep the fight

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 8 Feb 2017

Attempts to protect Siemens' business interests in Article 50 legislation have failed – but MPs and business chiefs have vowed it is not the end of their efforts.

Hull MPs Alan Johnson and Diana Johnson jointly tabled an amendment to the bill, calling for safeguards to Siemens' ability to trade tariff-free with the other EU countries after Brexit.

It was a proposal backed by 12 other Labour Party colleagues – but will not be considered before Wednesday's final vote in the House of Commons.

Ms Johnson, MP for Hull North, said this marked the "start" of the campaign for a good Brexit deal for the Humber's offshore wind industry and "not the finish".

She said Siemens would need guarantees about being able to sell its city-made turbine blades to the Continent free from export taxes if the long-term business plan for its factory in Victoria Docks was to remain viable.

Ms Johnson said: "As the Brexit negotiating process goes forward over the next two years, Hull MPs will continue pressing ministers on the need for access to the continental EU market for Hull-made offshore wind turbines."It was always the plan that Siemens will initially supply the domestic UK market in the North Sea. This will give Siemens years of work, but it's important to use this time to safeguard and develop the EU export market.

"With or without a good trade deal with places like the USA, wind turbine blades cannot be transported that far. For practical reasons, the Humber 'Energy Estuary' needs to maintain that trade link with the EU after Brexit."

The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which helps administer funding for local infrastructure and business improvements, are another group vowing to keep the renewables sector in the Government's mind while it negotiates the UK's Brexit deal.

Executive director Richard Kendall said Brexit Secretary David Davis - who is also MP for Haltemprice and Howden - should hold talks with the heads of Yorkshire's LEPs about the deal.

Mr Kendall told MPs on Tuesday: "People want to get on with [Brexit], no matter what side of the fence they were on during the referendum but it is important we have intelligence from businesses."We would be interested in meeting with David Davis or other ministers. I think the Yorkshire dimension is obviously very important but we would want to have talks on a sectorial basis – in terms of shared links with Teeside and Liverpool and with other ports. We can hopefully do both.

"With energy, we want to be at the heart of any green energy deal. We think green and cheaper energy is of benefit to everyone but of course especially to the Humber," said Mr Kendall.

MPs are expected to vote the Article 50 bill through its Third Reading with a majority on Wednesday evening, with a vote expected at about 7pm. It will then go to the House of Lords for consideration before it can become law.

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