Councillors in Leeds have been preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
By Katie Lyons and Jaimie Kay
At a meeting of senior councillors, the Chief Executive Tom Riordan said, “it is so uncertain and there is only a certain amount you can do” and he wants a deal.
One local business owner said they have been feeling the effects since the referendum and a no-deal would make it worse.
On Thursday it was announced that Theresa May would get a Brexit delay until 12 April unless MPs back her withdrawal deal next week, in which case it would be 22 May.
‘No one really knows what’s going to happen’
There were five key areas of an impact the city wanted to focus on in the report published at the end of the referendum:
- Infrastructure and supplies
- Business and economy
- Media and Communications
The council met to make updates to this report after the recent standstill in Parliament about Theresa May’s deal.
Mr Riordan said: “The real hope is that a deal is done in whatever form it is so complex and so uncertain there is only a certain amount you can do”.
The councillors did not go into specific detail about the preparations they were making.
The updated report states ‘There remains very little certainty about the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.’ After the constant defeat the deal has faced in Parliament Leeds City Council’s preparations have now focused planning for three scenarios:
- A ‘no deal’ Brexit
- Approval for the Prime Minister’s deal
- A prolonged period of uncertainty
President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk said: “The 12th of April is a key date in terms of the UK deciding whether to hold European Parliament elections if it has not decided to do so then, the possibility of a longer extension will automatically become impossible.”
Hannah Bithell, Labour Party Councillor for Kirkstall said: “I know preparations for a no-deal are being made, I don’t know if anyone can be prepared for the entire unknown”.
“I don’t think we can take a deal that makes my local residents less well-off so an extension to get a deal that works for my residents for me is the only way forward in regards to this, no one really knows what’s going to happen so we have to prepare for all case scenario”.
The meeting also focused on the impact on Leeds’ local businesses.
Jared Myland, the owner of OK Comics in Leeds said, “although business and profits are growing, business is harder than ever before”
“Our stock prices went up by twenty per cent within a week or two of the result.”
Mr Myland posted his response to the Brexit negotiations on Facebook, highlighting the impact on small business owners.
“Customers will be spending less. Distributors will be charging more. Your friendly neighbourhood comic store will be caught in the middle.”
Jared said local business owners were being ill-informed: “Every time Theresa May goes with another deal we don’t really know what’s in the deal.”
A local business owner from Off The Wall in the Corn Exchange said: “We’ve been here a long time, we’ve been going fourteen years we’ll be fine a lot of the other independent businesses might be hit harder”.
A petition on the Parliament website, asking for Article 50 to be revoked has surpassed three million signatures, just under eleven thousand of those coming from Leeds.