I write in light of announcements from Airbus, our CBI, Landrover and Nissan.
The north east is one of the major exporting areas of the UK, but more than 60 per cent of our exports go frictionlessly to Europe, mainly our first class engineering products.
Nissan and other manufacturers have components arriving frictionlessly through the Customs Union. These agreements are part of complex and long-standing common rules for all member states.
It is beyond doubt that the north east will suffer more than other areas if we withdraw from the Customs Union.
On the point of bureaucracy, the EU may seem bureaucratic, but it is the meeting place of 28 member states with more than 500 million citizens.
Its achievements have been many. It is one of the world’s strongest trading blocs. It has brought together countries that have been in conflict for centuries.
It has also given many social benefits, which we perhaps take for granted, from clean, no sewerage beaches to cheap open skies flights, to the EHIC health card.
As to the cost per citizen, looking at my inland revenue statement, I find that my payment is 40p a week. I have yet to meet anyone who pays more than £1 per week.