The Government are committed to protecting and promoting the combined strengths of our Union, building on 300 years of successful partnership. It is vital that we continue to work across the United Kingdom on common challenges that we all face, such as the roll-out of the covid-19 vaccination programme. We also need together to focus on issues such as protecting jobs and supporting our NHS.
As the MP for a border region, I am acutely aware of the importance of our great Union, physically, economically and historically. I welcome the Government’s plans to establish 10 free ports across the United Kingdom—a move that will help to secure thousands of jobs and regenerate communities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the exciting Cumbria free port multi-centre proposal, involving Carlisle airport, Barrow and Workington, with its specific strengths in Union connectivity and clean energy, would help to propel our region’s economic recovery and play a key role in the Government’s levelling-up agenda by attracting investment and jobs to our region?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Carlisle, Barrow and Workington working together can ensure not just that Cumbria and the north-west of England benefits, but that the borders region as a whole benefits. The support that this Government have given to the borderlands growth deal is an example of the way in which the interrelations between Carlisle, Dumfries, Hawick and other significant parts of this United Kingdom mean that we are stronger together.