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City leaders to meet chief EU Brexit negotiator

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City leaders are to meet the European Union’s chief negotiator to discuss how the interests of their communities, businesses and institutions can be met in the run up to Brexit and beyond.

A delegation from Core Cities UK, made up of the leaders of Cardiff, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle city councils, as well as the elected mayors of Liverpool and Bristol city councils, will travel to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Monday and meet with Michel Barnier.

Judith Blake

City leaders to meet chief EU Brexit negotiator

Judith Blake

It is the first publicly known major meeting between the EU’s chief negotiator and local government representatives from this country. 

Core Cities chair and Leeds leader Judith Blake (Lab) said the meeting, which will also be attended by representatives from other major European cities, would not focus on the process of negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU as “that is a matter for the government”.

But she added: “We already have strong links with these cities which are important for local jobs. We also have a responsibility to make sure the voice of local people is heard.

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

Cllr Blake called on the government to devolve further powers and enable cities to “take back control” of policy areas such as skills and economic development to boost productivity.

She said: “The UK needs to increase its productivity by giving our cities the freedoms they need.

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

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

Cllr Blake added that the delegation will also be urging other European urban areas to lobby their national governments on the importance of relationships between cities.

Core Cities UK says the areas it represents generate 25% of the UK economy, with more than a quarter of the country’s businesses located there delivering 29% of UK international trade.

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