Shadow Brexit secretary visits Portsmouth – but not the port

Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer. Picture: Sarah Standing
Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer. Picture: Sarah Standing

LABOUR’S Brexit boss visited Portsmouth to see what impact leaving the European Union could have on the city – but he cancelled his visit to the port.

Keir Starmer, shadow secretary of state for Britain leaving the EU, went up the Spinnaker Tower, met businesses and heard from aerospace manufacturer Airbus.

But the politician’s trip to Portsmouth International Port was cancelled. As previously reported in The News, port director Mike Sellers has been calling for Tory Brexit minister Suella Braverman to visit the port to talk about its future.

She is yet to visit, as is Mr Starmer. A Labour Party spokeswoman said it was due to a problem with timings.

Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I have been looking at ports across the UK and I have a meeting with Portsmouth International Port in parliament next week.

‘The question I have been concerned with and asking the ports is, what impact will it have on you if the pretty quick way in which we get cargo onto the ferries and ships cannot continue and the timings go up?

‘The great concern is any delay will disrupt the operation and make the ports difficult to manage.’

Mr Starmer criticised the Tory Party for not knowing ‘what is going on on the ground’ and how Brexit will affect businesses.

He added: ‘Tory ministers need to see first hand and hear first hand what impact Brexit will have.

‘There is responsibility for the government to be on the ground looking at the impact of the policy they are putting forward.’

Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan introduced Mr Starmer to a number of small businesses in Southsea. They explained how they trade and voiced their concerns on the instability of current Brexit negotiations.

Mr Starmer said: ‘In my role I should be visiting places like Portsmouth to hear what people really think about the challenge of Brexit.

‘The biggest challenge for the city is that businesses are supported and able to trade in the future in the same way they have been in the past. I have to hear what they say and make sure they are reassured our priorities are right.’

Mr Morgan added: ‘The government has shown little to no interest in Portsmouth when it comes to Brexit. I care too much about our city to let concerns of businesses go unheard.’