Why Freeports Matter – and why I won’t support the Chequers proposals

Yesterday I opened the debate in Parliament about why Freeports have such huge potential to boost the Teesside economy.

If we are serious about making them work, we need to be free to break with the EU’s state aid rules. The Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals in their current form would make this impossible.

This is one of several reasons I could not vote for such a deal. The Chequers proposals presently also mean us taking the EU’s rules on the manufacture of goods in perpetuity, without a vote or a voice at the table to shape them. For me, this would not honour our vote to leave the EU – indeed, it would be worse than the terms of our current membership. This is the very definition of a bad deal.

I believe we should instead focus on securing a “Super Canada” free trade deal, which would mean we avoid being a rule taker from Brussels while securing tariff-free access to European markets. There is still time to secure such a deal, and we should be using the time that remains to overcome the one obstacle to it, the status of the sensitive Northern Ireland border. The technological solutions exist to overcome this if the political will is there.