Brexit report was blocked by Birmingham chiefs before referendum

A report outlining the potential impact of Brexit on Birmingham drafted before the referendum was blocked from coming out by the city council, it has been revealed.

The council’s European and International Affairs team produced the document before Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016.

But they were instructed not to release it by authority bosses to avoid swaying the outcome.

The city was one of the most divided areas of the country on Brexit with less than 4,000 votes in it – 50.4 per cent voting Leave (227,251 votes) against 49.6 per cent opting to Remain (223,451 votes).

While Birmingham’s turnout of 64 per cent was also way below the national average of 72 per cent.

Now, nearly two years on, councillors have criticised the lack of any detailed public report indicating whether Birmingham will be better or worse off after Britain officially goes it alone.

The issue was discussed by the council’s Economy, Skills and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee, last week.

The agenda item was called ‘Potential Implications of Brexit’ yet there was no accompanying report, which was picked up on by members.

Instead Heather Law, senior programme co-ordinator on the European and International Affairs team, outlined what steps have been taken since the referendum, including the formation of a Brexit Advisory Group (BAG) and Birmingham lobbying the Government and EU through Core Cities UK.

Confirming the existence of a pre-referendum report Ms Law said: “Before the referendum event happened the European and International Affairs division produced a report around some of the potential implications for the city if a Leave vote came in.

“The council took the decision not to release any information and the officers had to remain unbiased.”

Cllr Sir Albert Bore (Lab, Ladywood), on the committee, stated he was disappointed not to see any report including work compiled by academic institutions on Brexit.

He argued that if Britain was no longer in the EU customs union it would have huge ramifications for the automotive and aerospace industries in the region, as well as the financial sector including thousands of workers based at Deutsche Bank in Brindleyplace.

Cllr Bore said: “We need to put something on the table that says ‘these are the potential implications of Brexit’.

“It does depend on the final deal but we ought to know what we are talking about here.

“Essex has done it, Manchester has done it and Birmingham needs it rather than a discussion around a table like this.

“We need to quantify what the impact will be.”

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