UK city leaders meet Barnier to talk Brexit

22 Feb 18

Leaders from some of the UK’s largest cities met with Michel Barnier this week to make a case for their cities’ interests in the Brexit negotiations.

Core Cities UK, which represents the largest industrial areas outside of London, attended a joint meeting with Eurocities who bring together 140 of Europe’s largest cities, to highlight the interests of local authorities in Brexit discussions.

The groups met with Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, at the European Commission’s Headquarters on 19 February.

Judith Blake, chair of Core Cities UK and leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Our joint meeting is to promote the interests of our local communities, businesses and institutions in future links with other European cities.

“Growth from the Core Cities will play a critical role to the success of the UK’s post-Brexit economy.

“If all of our places performed just at the national economic average, it would put an additional £70-£90bn into the economy every year.”

Core Cities UK noted that their member areas are home to 20 million people and generate 25% of the British economy.

The organisation has also calculated that exports from Core Cities amounted to more than £72bn in 2016, of which 48% went to the EU.

Blake said: “International evidence suggests that the most productive cities have the most power over spending on local priorities.

“Our message to the government is to deliver a domestic reform agenda that allows cities to take back control on issues such as skills and local economic development.”

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, who attended the meeting, highlighted Mr Barnier's committment to maintaining exisitng relationships with UK cities. 

He said: “Mr Barnier listened to our views as city leaders and said he is determined to find frameworks for future relations and that the challenges we face are better tackled together.

“And although he made it clear that his negotiations need to take place within a Westminster context, we hope that greater access to and traction with government will be a key outcome of the visit.”

A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesperson said: “We are seeking an unprecedented, comprehensive and ambitious economic partnership – one that works for all parts of the UK.”

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