Hartlepool political leaders hope for a 'bright future' as Brexit Day finally arrives
Hartlepool voted overwhelmingly for Britain to leave the European Union by 69.6% in 2016 and today voters will get their wish.
But more than three and half years later, opinions are still divided over how the town will fare with the country going it alone.
Councillor Shane Moore Leader of the Brexit Party controlled Hartlepool Borough Council said: “As someone who has long campaigned to see the United Kingdom leave the European Union I will be delighted to see it finally happen on Friday.
“This country now has the opportunity to stop being an inward looking European country and once again look to the rest of the world.
“My sincere hope is that from Saturday we can also start to heal the divisions that have occurred over this process. Let's embrace the opportunity together and move forward with a positive outlook for Hartlepool and the rest of the UK.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill described it as a ‘symbolic day’ and hopes it will trigger a brighter future for Hartlepool and the whole region.
He said: “We may be taking a step into the unknown, but we profess to know where we’re walking. I hope so for the sake of the country and especially for my young constituents whose lives and futures will be shaped and influenced by this event.
“We’ve got everything going for us in what hopefully will be a brave new world, although I am very wary that the Chancellor has predicted there will be companies and businesses who suffer.
“I truly believe that Friday is a watershed moment for the country and one which should unite us in the ambition to make our own way in the world again and give pride back to our long forgotten communities.
“Like it or lump it, that is the direction of travel now and it’s my job to make sure that the people of Hartlepool actually get to benefit from it.”
Alby Pattison, the founder of the town’s international medical diagnostics company Hart Biologicals, of which he is now retired, said potential import and export tariffs on products and raw materials will hurt businesses.
He said: “Will the government be able to invest the amount of money into the North East that came from the European fund?”
Andy Hagon, who stood as Hartlepool’s Liberal Democrat candidate in the General Election and campaigned to Remain, said: “I feel very sad that we’ll be leaving the EU.
“I do fear for Hartlepool’s future – I currently struggle to see how leaving the EU will benefit our great town.”
He said it is up to politicians to make sure Hartlepool gets its fair share of government funding, and that the UK stays as close to the EU as possible as the region is the biggest exporter to the EU.
Hartlepool Borough Council is not anticipating any issues as a result of leaving the EU. The authority previously worked with local businesses to prepare for a ‘no deal’ and said it will continue to advise during the transition period.