TWELVE months ago Britain voted to leave the EU. Now with negotiations with the two sides finally underway, Stuart Arnold asks a selection of regional figures to assess the current state of play and predict the potential outcome for Brexit.

The Northern Echo: TALKS: Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce's head of policy

Jonathan Walker, head of policy at the North East Chamber of Commerce:

“The Brexit decision was obviously a shock for many of our members who hadn’t expected us to leave the EU. Once the decision was made, our businesses wanted progress on key decisions as soon as possible. We are now a year down the line with no significant progress.

"It is good news therefore that the Brexit negotiations have now started. These talks will undoubtedly have major repercussions for many of our businesses. It’s vital that Government listens to what businesses want to avoid any unnecessary economic harm.

"As a strong exporting region, our firms must continue to enjoy trade with their biggest markets on as flexible and red-tape free basis as possible. The Government must be held to its promise to negotiate new trade deals around the world and provide far more resources to support businesses looking to break into new markets.

"Our future immigration policy is also of upmost importance to businesses and has to balance political needs with a recognition that our companies need to operate in a global market for talent.

"North-East firms must not be hampered in their efforts to bring the brightest and best skilled workers to our region.”

The Northern Echo:

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor:

“I always supported the idea of Brexit and when the vote was declared I was pleased and optimistic. Nothing that has happened since has changed my mind, in fact since being elected mayor and seeing the terrific exporting businesses we have in the Tees Valley I am more convinced than ever that Brexit will be more of a positive to our area than a risk.

"The Government will also have greater scope to assist this part of the UK. Free from the shackles of state aid rules, it will be free to support investment in the essential sectors and new industries that we need to constantly change and update our economic base.

"Britain and our area in particular has expertise and products to offer on a global stage. Europe is important, it is our nearest export market, but we need to look wider to maintain and enhance our global position. New trade deals with former commonwealth countries, Asian markets and the USA are critical.”

The Northern Echo: QUESTIONS: Professor Anthony Zito, from Newcastle University

Anthony Zito, professor of European public policy at Newcastle University:

“The events of the past year and the outcome of the June UK national election confirm that the UK will be able to exercise its sovereignty in leaving the EU.

"However, the other core aspiration, namely to regain a greater degree of political control, has and will continue to be problematic.

"The situation in Ireland and the Conservative-DUP alliance all indicate that, in the effort to maintain open borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the UK will continue to share the control of migration with the Irish Republic and therefore the European Union of which Ireland remains a member.

"More fundamentally, the lack of capacity in Whitehall to cope with all of the dimensions of the UK-EU divorce means that, although the UK Parliament will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972, the Government lacks the capacity to replace the considerable number of British legislation created to implement EU regulations.

"Furthermore, the reaffirmation of the need to trade with the European Union and perhaps even a lengthy transitional arrangement reinforces the reality that the EU regulations and processes will influence UK political and social choices and decisions for years to come.”

The Northern Echo: John Tennant

John Tennant, Ukip councillor in Hartlepool and former Tees Valley mayoral candidate:

“I was hugely proud of the British decision to leave the EU, it was worth fighting for. Fast forward to the first anniversary of that momentous decision and what we have seen is the Westminster parties try and hijack the issue and give themselves a veneer of a pro-Brexit voice.

"We now have a hung Parliament, which tips the balance in favour of the EU Commission and will lead to significant backsliding in the Brexit negotiations. Before long I suspect there will be another General Election and this could put Brexit beyond the 2019 deadline set for our departure and may even kill it completely. The British people still want out, but Westminster wants us to stay in.”

The Northern Echo: CONNECTIONS: Sean Bullick, chief executive of Newcastle NE1

Sean Bullick, chief executive of Newcastle NE1, the North-East’s largest business improvement district:

“Our trade connections to the rest of the world must be a priority for the Government when negotiating our exit from the European Union.

"We would like to see a reassurance that existing trade links will not only be preserved, but that a framework is put in place that makes it possible for the North-East’s world-leading firms to win business across the globe.

"Regardless of the deal the Government gets, the North-East needs investment in roads, railways, air travel, ports, housing, schools and skills, and we need it sooner rather than later so it is fit for purpose and ready for growth.”