‘WHAT Britain and the world will look like after Brexit’ was the title of the second annual Harold Wilson lecture at the University of Bradford last night.

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central, has a wealth of experience in Government and opposition, and is the chair of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee.

In the lecture, named in honour of the University of Bradford’s first Chancellor, former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Mr Benn gave his perspective on Brexit, and what it will mean for the UK’s role and influence in the world. He spoke before an audience in the university’s Norcroft Centre. In the EU referendum in 2016, Bradford voted 54 per cent leave on a turnout of 66.7 per cent.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus before the lecture, Mr Benn said: “I was a remain campaigner and I think it’s a profound mistake for the country, but I’m also a democrat and I voted for the Article 50 legislation in Parliament because I think we have to respect the result and we will leave the institutions of the European Union next March.

“But the raging debate in British politics is ‘what kind of relationship should we have with the European Union after we’ve left?’. I think we need a very close economic and political relationship because it’s our biggest and most important market.”

He added: “I think the problem we have at the moment is we’ll see whether a deal is reached in the next few days or weeks, but that is just the withdrawal arrangement and that’s not actually subject to much argument apart from the Irish backstop.

“The really big issue is our future relationship - everything - trade, customs, policing, security, foreign policy, consumer safety, chemicals, medicines, university collaboration.

“Here’s this wonderful university - in Bradford will there still be an ERASMUS programme which enables students from low-income backgrounds to go and study in Europe? And for business there’s huge uncertainty because if business people say to you ‘so how’s it going to work when we leave?’ the answer is, we don’t know, because we haven’t even begun to negotiate that.”

Mr Benn said he thinks Brexit will have a “big impact” and added: “The Government’s own assessment shows, whichever of the options it is, our economy will be less strong than it would have otherwise been. If our economy is less strong, then that’s less money than we would otherwise have had to spend on improving the health service, building the homes we need, investing in policing, investing in education. We need to have an honest conversation about the choices we have to make as a country.”

He said he didn’t think the Government had faced up to that.