Peterborough’s metro mayor says he has been converted from a Remainer to a Leaver after seeing the opportunities for businesses in the city after Brexit.
James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said he would now vote Leave if another EU referendum was held after becoming “increasingly upbeat and confident” about what Brexit could mean for the county.
The Conservative politician’s bullishness about Brexit follows trade talks with US Embassy senior officials and a meeting with Japanese parliamentarians, two countries he said the EU has not managed to strike trade deals with.
Mayor Palmer told the Peterborough Telegraph: “If there was a vote now I would vote to Leave. I’ve been convinced by a few things since the vote - the reaction from the European Union and the reaction from people in this country - that we have probably made the right decision.
“The side I voted for lost - we get on with it and make the best of the opportunity that we have. We will still be doing business with Europe.”
Mayor Palmer, who was elected in May to head the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, a newly formed local authority, added that unelected officials in Europe were now behaving “very poorly.”
On the opportunities for Peterborough once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, the mayor said: “Businesses are very pragmatic. People get into business because they take opportunities. I think they can see there’s an opportunity here for growth and to sell products internationally.
“We are in a prime position post-2019 to take advantage of the opportunities that we offer to worldwide businesses.”
Mayor Palmer, who is to meet international mayors in Paris, said Cambridgeshire was a world leader in life sciences and technology.
Asked whether Peterborough would get a share of the rewards following Brexit, he replied: “Not every business can set up in Cambridge - the land is too expensive. And Peterborough has its own brand as well as its own successes. I do not see that Peterborough will miss out.”
Writing on the combined authority website, the mayor added that striking trade deals with countries outside of the EU will “likely lead to concrete benefits here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”