TODAY, the Government is to announce the creation of the first ten “freeports” post-Brexit. That the announcement is to be made at Teesport suggests that it is among the front-runners.

That is good to see, and not surprising as the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, has been championing the cause and the recently-promoted Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has done much research into the issue.

However, there is an irony that on the one hand, the Government is gleefully galumphing towards a no-deal exit, spending an extra £2.2bn this week alone to prepare for all the difficulties, blockages and tariffs that its policy is going to create while, on the other hand, it is launching a policy to tear down difficulties, blockages and tariffs through the creation of freeports.

It is good that a freeport advisory panel is to be set up because we need to be certain that it is just the fiscal regulations that are going to be lowered. Freeports cannot become more cost efficient through the reduction of environmental, safety or employment protections. They cannot be a race to the bottom.

Secondly, it must be the people of this area who see a lasting benefit from a freeport. A freeport could attract the tax-dodging, global corporations which park up wherever they see an economic benefit, enjoy the boost to their bottom lines before moving on when they spot a more lucrative loophole.

But if, as a nation, we are to have freeports, it is great that the Tees Valley is positioned to be among the first to enjoy the benefits.