What Hull needs to happen as Brexit trade talks head to 'phase two'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 11 Dec 2017

After Theresa May had finished with her dawn handshakes in Brussels, attention turned to the Brexit trade talks – and what Hull will need to keep its main industries ticking.

In the early hours of Friday morning, after calls between the European Union’s top brass and the DUP – the Conservative Government’s bed fellows – the Prime Minister was able to sign-off on ‘phase one’ of the Brexit negotiations .

A settlement including guaranteed rights for EU citizens living in the UK, agreed “principles” over a rumoured £35-39 billion divorce bill and a holding position on the Irish border bought Mrs Maywhat she desperately needed – a doorway to the ‘phase two’ trade talks.

But those talks will be far from easy (as phase one proved) and will be even more significant for the UK economy – not least to some of Hull’s main employment sectors .


Theresa May's handshake with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has paved the way for Brexit trade talks (Image: Reuters)

City MPs say securing a transition deal, prioritising the offshore wind sector and ensuring the city’s port continues to serve its purpose as a trade and travel gateway must all be assured during the trade negotiations.

READ MORE: These firms explain why they failed to pay the minimum wage in Hull and East Yorkshire

Karl Turner, MP for Hull East, said the Government must listen to the needs of the offshore wind industry to guarantee generations of employment at Siemen’s Green Port manufacturing plant in his constituency.

The Labour front bench minister said he was “concerned” by the PM’s continued desire to pull Britain out of the single market and the customs union, saying that the “economy and jobs” relied on close access to both.


Karl Turner says the Government must fight for close access to the single market after leaving the EU

Without full access, Siemens could find it more difficult and expensive to source parts for its Hull-made wind turbine blades and also struggle to exploit a renewables export market around Europe.

“It is vital that a deal gets as close to single market access as it can for the offshore turbine industry,” said Mr Turner.

READ MORE: How Grimsby will shape the mould for offshore wind being made in Taiwan

Emma Hardy MP is one of Labour’s most informed minds on Brexit as the aide to shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.

The Hull West and Hessle MP said the “priority” for her was about agreeing the details of a transition deal – a continuation period after the April 2019 deadline which would allow Britain to trade and cooperate with the EU without barriers.

“The priority now – for Hull and for the whole of the United Kingdom – must be to agreeing a transitional trade deal that can protect jobs, businesses and the economy,” she said.


Emma Hardy MP is part of Labour's Brexit team

Ms Hardy also said there must be nothing stopping goods from “passing through our ports easily” after Brexit.

The renewables industry is known to have fears around future access to EU research and development funds (which helps the industry advance and keep costs down) and the end of free movement, which could make it difficult for construction and engineering experts – including those from Britain – to move freely across the Continent.

READ MORE: Why the Humber could be a 'global force in green energy' after Siemens creates 2,000 jobs

With clean energy one of the key drivers of the Government’s industrial strategy, it is likely to be a focal point during trade talks over the coming 10 months.


The Queen, pictured meeting former MP Alan Johnson, visited the Siemens Green Port factory during her visit last month (Image: Jerome Ellerby)

A spokesman for the German company Siemens said it wanted an outcome that ensured “constructive collaboration” between the EU and the UK.

Anne Keogh, head of external relations, said: “Siemens would like to see a Brexit agreement reached in the common interest, which minimizes business disruption and maintains free trade and constructive collaboration between the EU and UK.

“Our business in the UK serves a broad range of sectors, including energy, infrastructure and others.

“It is therefore in our interest that all these sectors are able to trade as freely as possible and operate in a climate in which they are able to grow and invest.”

READ MORE: Today's main headlines from Humberbusiness.com


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