Time for a post-Brexit industrial strategy - Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya

Much debate has been had in Parliament and Peterborough, about ensuring that we mould a post- Brexit strategy that will enable Britain to thrive outside of the European Union.

Saturday, 18th August 2018, 12:55 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:09 pm
Fiona Onasanya column

I have always believed that the referendum result should be respected, but it has become increasingly difficult to respect the government’s lackadaisical, careless negotiations with Brussels. It is imperative that we opt for a careful, not a careless Brexit. To do this does not simply involve negotiating with Brussels, but also requires setting out an inspiring vision of post-Brexit Britain. The late, great Labour stalwart Tony Benn put forward a new industrial strategy decades ago, that if acted upon, would have helped British manufacturing fulfil its true potential. It is my view that now is the perfect time for a new industrial strategy fit for the 21st century. Many who voted Brexit were affected by globalisation. Communities were de-industrialised and jobs which were lost over the last four decades, were not replaced. Instead, we have a reliance on cheap imports and while the City continues to grow, the rich continue to get richer whilst many communities up and down the country have been losing out.

Brexit is the perfect opportunity to put forward a new industrial strategy that reprogrammes our economy for the many, not the few. So we must be bold and invest in manufacturing in Britain.

Industries such as these can create good, well-paid, skilled jobs for communities like Peterborough – that have lost out under the current status quo. For the home of the Industrial Revolution, we must be willing to actively intervene in industry so that it can be supported and prosper. This isn’t a radical idea, it’s common sense; something that many European countries already do. The reality is, many of our infrastructure and military contracts are being sold to foreign manufacturers when trains and ships could be built and bought in Britain instead. If our government had the courage to support British business and industry, a plethora of new, high-skilled jobs could be created up and down the country. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of the state’s purchasing power by supporting domestic manufacturing? A careful Brexit focused on revitalising

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our much neglected industrial heartlands with high-quality jobs and public contracts will give our economy and infrastructure a much-needed boost. Meanwhile, a reckless Brexit would only serve the same interests that have benefited for decades: cheap importers and the financiers in Canary Wharf.

As we slide towards March 2019, Britain, and Britain’s workforce, desperately need a new deal. I am of the view that a new, post-Brexit industrial strategy is a bold way to provide prosperity for all.