Ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont backs Brexit success for Grimsby
‘LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES’: Ex-Chancellor Norman Lamont pictured outside Downing Street back in 1993.
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 16 Nov 2017
THE Grimsby-raised former Chancellor Norman Lamont says Brexit will “not be a disaster” for the town.
Lord Lamont made the comments while being asked about the town’s seafood processing industry’s call for special free trade status to be applied at the ports of Immingham and Grimsby – a story first reported by Humberbusiness.com. .
The industry wants fish imports and its packaged exports not to have any post-Brexit taxes applied when entering or leaving the ports on the Humber’s south bank.
Grimsby processors currently import 90 per cent of the fresh fish that it turns into plate-ready food for retailers, restaurants and fish and chips shops.
Ex-Tory MP Lord Lamont, who grew up in Grimsby, said he thought Brexit would offer “lots of opportunities” for the town.
“Grimsby is a port. Trade will continue to flow in both directions,” said the Brexit voting peer.
“I don’t believe Brexit for one minute is going to be a disaster. There are lots of opportunities out there.
“I think probably in 10 years’ time people will even forget we were even members of the European Union,” he told the BBC.
Lord Lamont – who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1990 and 1993 – is currently working behind the scenes with the Greater Grimsby Project Board.
The group, backed by millionaire and fellow local lad David Ross, is looking to secure public and private backing for a whole-scale regeneration scheme for the town.
The seafood processing industry’s lobby for free trade status caused a stir amongst remain-backers, who questioned why Grimsby voted to the leave the European Union when free trade – which Britain has with EU countries while in the single market – was so vital for the prosperity of one of its largest employment sectors.
In North East Lincolnshire, 70 per cent of voters wanted to exit the EU during the 2016 referendum.
But Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, said the free trade status for northern Lincolnshire ports – which would establish cost-free seafood trade with every country and not just EU member states – would not be possible if Britain continued with its bloc membership.
“The whole point in this is that we want a specific designation for Grimsby and Immingham which you couldn’t do while you are a part of the EU,” said Mr Vickers.
“It is not saying, as some of these people on social media are saying, ‘Oh you wanted to leave but now want to reverse it for the fishing industry’. That is not the case.
“This is something that couldn’t be done while we are in the EU.”
According to the Grimsby Fish Market, about 15,000 tonnes of fish enters the town’s port every year, of which 80 per cent comes from Iceland.
The rest is imported from Norway, the Faroe Islands and other countries, as well as nationally and locally. Some fish is imported from as far as Canada, Argentina, South Africa and China.
Iceland and Norway are not in the EU but are in the European Economic Area which allows them free access to the single market in sectors they have signed-up to. They have opted out on fisheries to protect their main industry.
Representatives from the industry cluster group Seafood Grimsby & Humber, including key figures from Grimsby-based companies Young’s and Icelandic Seachill, are due to meet Fishing Minister George Eustice in Westminster to discuss the free trade status proposal next week.