The Budget was full of the usual smoke and mirrors from the master of spin, Rishi Sunak, and will no doubt be exposed as such in the coming days and weeks.
An earlier decision from the Government to allocate freeport status to some areas has also been revealed as being more spin than substance this week. Freeports were spun as being all about levelling up and creating economic growth, but as my colleague Alex Cunningham explained in the Commons, the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility now admits that their primary function was to “𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘮𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘤 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘦𝘭𝘴𝘦𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦.”
In other words, freeports are about moving rather than creating wealth. This admission makes it all the more frustrating that Bristol was overlooked, as we won’t just miss out on the benefits of freeport status but may also see businesses relocating from the West Country to freeport areas.