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Northern mayors fear London-centric Brexit despite ‘constructive meeting’

The secretary of state for exiting the European Union, David Davis, has met with the three metro mayors of the northern combined authorities accompanied by minister Steve Baker, who will lead on future engagement with the regions during negotiations with the EU.

The meeting in York gave them the opportunity to discuss future trading relationships with the EU, the new UK immigration policy and the future of European structural funding. Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, however, expressed concern for a “London-centric” Brexit.

But Davis offered reassurance that the government is committed to ensuring that every region in the UK flourishes post-Brexit. Following the meeting, he said: “The combined authorities play a crucial role in representing the priorities of our regions which is why I’m pleased that we are continuing to build a productive relationship with their mayors since their election in May.

“We will continue working closely with them to understand the potential challenges and opportunities that leaving the EU presents to each of the regions, building on the productive meeting we have held in York today.”

Baker added: “With our negotiations well underway, delivering a deal that works for every part of the UK remains our priority. Meetings such as these are hugely important to ensure we do just that.

“Today has been informative and constructive and I am looking forward to maintaining this engagement with the combined authority mayors in the coming months.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley mayor, who was a strong supporter of Brexit, was positive about the meeting. He said: “Brexit is both the biggest opportunity Britain has in a generation, and the most significant challenge facing politicians. Tees Valley built the modern world, and we are now ready to reach out to the wider world once again and seize international opportunities.

“The best way to revitalise our region is to sell our skills and goods in the global market, and to achieve this we need a deal with the EU that businesses find acceptable and can plan for, while securing free trade deals with the world’s fastest growing economies.

“By meeting with David Davis I have been able to ask the questions people in Tees Valley want the answers to and raise the concerns about Brexit some people in our area have, while giving him the assurance that we are ready for the opportunities it will bring.”

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