The Government has agreed to consider proposals by Carlisle’s airport to become a freeport post-Brexit.

Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s spending round on Wednesday, in a debate, city MP John Stevenson asked if Sajid Javid would support the airport’s bid.

Mr Javid said he would be happy to look at its plan.

Businesses within a freeport zone can import, store products in a warehouse and re-export products duty-free.

The model is used extensively in the USA, with businesses benefitting from little or no checks, as well as tariff and tax benefits.

An advisory panel was launched earlier in the month by the Government, which will spearhead the idea, with ports and airports across the UK to be invited to bid to become one of up to 10 freeports.

Mr Stevenson said: “The Chancellor clearly recognises the importance of growing the economy, because it is through a growing economy that we can afford public services.

“I understand that, with a view to achieving growth –particularly in the north – there have been discussions about the possible creation of freeports in the north of England. Carlisle Lake District Airport, which is owned by the Stobart Group and ​which commenced commercial flights recently, has the ambition to create an airport freeport. Would the Chancellor support that?”

Mr Javid replied: “We have accelerated our work on the freeports generally, which is being led by the Trade Secretary and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. However, I should be happy to consider a proposal for an airport freeport.”

Stobart Group and Mr Stevenson have written to the Government, saying they think the freeport model could be a success because of the large amount of land surrounding the airport, north of Carlisle, Stobart Group’s experience and the airport’s strong transport links.

Mr Stevenson said: “We don’t have any in this country, because of EU legislation. It would be a section of the airport where there are lower taxes for goods.

“It would enable businesses to export out of the airport without tax barriers.

“There is a perception that some of the airports in the North East should be freeports.

“We have worked closely with the airport; we have been discussing the possibilities. That area of the airport would be attractive to businesses, especially for imports and exports.

“We have a business the size of Stobart that could invest.

“It is in the north and it is an area that needs economic development.

“It could bring long term security to the airport, which has had its challenges.

“It will bring in employment, it adds to the economy and to the development of our region.”

Freeports could help to counter any post-Brexit trade complications, according to Mr Stevenson.

“In a post-Brexit world Britain can set its own Europe trading policy, which could include freeports.

“There has been an advisory panel set up to advise the government on freeports, which demonstrates the government is serious about them.

“Our challenge is to make them think about Carlisle airport as one area to be used as a freeport.”

No airports in te UK currently hold designated freeport status.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Carlisle Ruth Alcroft, said: “It’s good to see John Stevenson recognises the potential of Carlisle and the north and is now actively promoting it.

“However, it must be recognised that a freeport, while designed to offer some kind of safety net post-Brexit, is no silver bullet.

“We run the risk of global corporations moving from one low tax area to another to exploit tax breaks and reduce workers’ rights. These are not necessarily the long term investments and high quality, secure jobs we are looking for.

“The public needs to ask themselves: we had the legislation for freeports in place until 2012. This government let it lapse. If it is such a great thing, why was that?

“Other countries seek free trade deals rather than prioritising freeports. Why is this? Of course it is great to see our infrastructure being used to boost our Cumbrian economy, but let’s find out what it means for us in practice.”

During the spending round, Mr Javid promised an “infrastructure revolution” with £490 million pledged for road, rail and bus links.

He said he was “turning the page on austerity” with a £13.4 billion spending spree.

He said: “From the motor highway to the information highway, we’ll settle for nothing less than an infrastructure revolution.

“To keep spending under control we will of course set a high bar for funding projects, and they’ll have to show real value for money, with credible delivery plans and budgets, starting with the Government’s rapid review of HS2.”

The Chancellor set out plans to increase spending in 2020-21 focused on the “people’s priorities” including the NHS, schools and the police.

The spending plan for a single year was fast-tracked to clear the decks ahead of Brexit, with the normal multi-year settlement planned for next year.

The plan would add £13.4 billion to existing plans for public spending including £1.7 billion for capital spending and marks a 4.1 per cent increase on spending in 2019-20.

Measures to boost health spending, recruit extra police officers and increase funding for England’s schools had already been announced before Mr Javid’s statement.

He also announced £160m would be awarded to the agricultural industry in Scotland, which was welcomed by Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell.

He said: “This is good news for the agricultural sector in my area.”