July 7, 2022

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England’s northern mayors seek to ‘defrost’ relations with Ireland

2 min read

If the Irish Sea has become emblematic of barriers between the EU and Britain in the wake of Brexit, upstairs at Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse brewery earlier this week its role was being reimagined.

Oiled by free-flowing pints and performances from Liverpudlian, Mancunian and Irish singers, metro mayors Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram of Liverpool headed England’s first ever mayoral-led trade mission, with a delegation of 100 or so politicians and business people from the north-west of England.

With Brussels and the UK locked in a stand-off over the implementation of post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland, Burnham said he believed such “city to city” British diplomacy had a future role in finding common ground.

“If things are frosted at national level between two countries — and Britain’s obviously got slightly frosty relations with a number of EU countries right now — well, we can play a role, as we’re doing here in Ireland,” he said.

“The Irish side want it as well, because it allows them to slightly have a less strained, positive conversation. It almost defrosts things a little bit.”

The mission was focused on investment opportunities in renewable energy that the city regions say would be worth a total of nearly £100bn by 2038. Potential Irish investors were told about renewable projects across the north-west of England — including plans for a tidal barrage in the Mersey estuary off Liverpool and the HyNet carbon capture project, fast-tracked last year by the UK government. They also discussed plans to collaborate on offshore energy generation in the Irish Sea.

Wind turbines in the Irish Sea off Liverpool. © Alan Edwards/Alamy

“I’ve not heard us discuss offshore energy in the Irish Sea as a joint enterprise. Why shouldn’t we have an international energy strategy with Ireland? Dublin is closer to Liverpool and Manchester than London,” said Tim Newns,…

2022-04-02 08:00:53

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