The day after the referendum result Nicola Sturgeon stated her distinctly Scottish vision for negotiations to leave the EU. A few days later, Cornwall set out their version of what Brexit should look like. With everything up in the air, now is clearly the time for the North East to set out its stall for what we want going forward into the negotiations to leave the EU.
The strength of the leave vote in the North East told us that they are crying out to be listened to by politicians. Amongst many other things, this was a vote to be heard by the political establishment.
That is why, after the result, I and my fellow North East Labour MEP Paul Brannen decided to undertake an extensive consultation listening exercise with people of the North. We asked stakeholders from all sectors: the region's political leaders, businesses, universities and trade unions as well as the general public what they thought the motivations were to vote for leave, what they want out of exit negotiations, and what they think the government's priorities should be going forward.
The consultation has been an open process, casting the net far and wide. We were keen to listen to and understand why people voted the way they did. The process was led by an open survey where we attempted to gauge the opinion of a broad section of the public, both leave and remain, on their feelings of the result, what their main concerns were, what they felt the main positives were, and what they wanted us, as elected officials, to campaign for.
This was followed by a series of meetings with key and diverse stakeholders. Every sector from business to trade unions, culture to education has been consulted on how Brexit will affect them, and what the government should be doing to support them. Again we wanted to invite the views of remain supporters and those who supported leave.
Next week, we will present our interim findings. We will then put these findings back to the region to set in place a plan for the North-East. This plan for the North East will be presented to key actors on all sides of negotiations including European Negotiators, civil servants and members of the British Government.
Next Friday on the 18th November at the Centre for Life we will present these findings as a basis for further discussion. There will be a Q&A and a questionnaire to fill out to begin this second stage of the consultation. We hope that this will mean that, when we present our findings to negotiating teams, it will be as full and fair representation of the views of the North-East as possible.
If you are interested in joining us for this event then you can do so by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The event runs from 9:00-10:30 on Friday 18th November and breakfast will be provided.
We hope that you can join us!