West Midlands Mayor Andy Street urged MPs to back Theresa May’s proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement – and warned that West Midlands employers will “definitely” suffer if we quit the EU without a deal.
He used a national television interview to issue a plea to MPs, who will vote on the Prime Minister’s proposed deal on Tuesday, January 15.
Mr Street said: “Let us hope that that vote is passed. That is my fervent hope.”
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Street said the West Midlands economy would suffer from a no-deal Brexit.
He said: “This region of course is the manufacturing heartland of the UK.
“Big companies like JLR, like Rolls Royce, like all the aerospace companies, JCB, and of course it’s been the great export success of the UK as well.
“And what I wanted to make really clear is just what’s at stake.
“If we do not have a transition arrangement, if we don’t have an ability for those companies to be able to continue to trade as they have done, and indeed have been very very successful in recent years, it will definitely damage the economy here.
“That’s what’s at stake and that’s really the issue, and that should be at the forefront of MPs’ minds next Tuesday.”
He said uncertainty about Brexit was already making firms less willing to invest and create jobs in the West Midlands.
“Companies are just withholding their investment decisions. Things that would have happened had there been certainty have not happened yet.”
If the House of Commons rejected Theresa May’s deal then MPs from different parties should work together to come up with a new plan which would avoid a no-deal Brexit, he said.
But he ruled out holding a “People’s Vote” or second referendum on Brexit, or extending Article 50 (which means delaying Brexit), saying it would create further uncertainty and do more harm to the economy.
Mr Street said: “Any talk of extending Article 50 or having a second referendum, I don’t agree with that. This has to be bought to a head.”
The comments by the region’s Conservative mayor came after Birmingham Tory MP Andrew Mitchell described the Government’s deal as “humiliating” and said he could not vote for it.
Mr Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) also said there may need to be another referendum on whether to go ahead with Brexit – but only as a “last resort”.
The Commons has begun five days of debate, culminating in the “meaningful vote” next week.
The Prime Minister dramatically pulled a vote before Christmas, admitting she was heading for defeat in the face of opposition from both pro-Leave and pro-Remain Tories.
With the UK set to leave the EU on March 29, it is unclear what will happen if MPs reject the deal. One possibility could be simply to carry out Brexit without any agreement with the EU in place.