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Digest: Call to create Northern Brexit negotiating committee

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A committee for the north should be established to handle Brexit negotiations, thinktank IPPR North has recommended.

The government should also adopt a “place-based approach” to industrial strategy, which includes the devolution of fiscal powers to regions and “local tiers”, it added.

The recommendations are contained in IPPR North’s latest State of the North report.

While last year’s report was “full of confident projections of northern powerhouse potential… uncertainty now pervades the northern mood”, the executive summary said.

This followed Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the knock-on impact which has seen northern powerhouse “champions” former chancellor George Osborne and chief financial secretary Lord O’Neill depart from their jobs.

The report said: “Meanwhile, devolution deals appear to have stalled, and the focus on regional rebalancing has now been subsumed into a wider initiative to develop an industrial strategy.

“All this, however, presents new opportunities. While Osborne’s approach was always too partial, piecemeal and parochial, [business secretary] Greg Clark’s ambition to create a ‘place-based industrial strategy’ led by the powerful new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has the potential to ignite a new era of economic activism around some of the north’s major economic strengths.”

Meanwhile, IPPR North also called for local enterprise partnerships to work with councils and combined authorities to conduct “resilience audits” for their areas. The audit, the report said, should set out “in detail the threats to their economy in the wake of Brexit”. It added the results “should then be used to inform a strategic response, and a set of asks from the government that are tailored to acting on this strategy as part of a new round of devolution deals with each LEP area”.

The full report can be found here.

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