At the Budget, I announced the location of eight freeports in eight regions of England following a highly competitive process. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is now leading a cross-Government effort to support the winning bidders to establish their freeport, and we expect the first freeports to open later this year.
My right hon. Friend authored a report in 2017, which found that freeports could easily create up to 90,000 jobs if they were as successful as the US foreign trade zone programme. Does he agree that, by voting against our Finance Bill and the setting up of freeports earlier this month, such as the Solent freeport near my constituency, the Labour party has shown that it has no interest in creating jobs and levelling up opportunity across the country, as this Government are committed to doing?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I congratulate everyone involved in the Solent freeport bid. This Government are using freeports to boost jobs, investment, trade and growth. Local communities, from Merseyside to Teesside, Humber and indeed the Solent, all agree with us and it is a shame that the Labour party does not support their aspirations.