As bids close to establish free ports, the jury is out on whether they will revitalise deprived areas of the UK or become mini-tax havens

Five years ago a young, unknown MP wrote a pamphlet for a Thatcherite thinktank extolling the benefits of free ports. Now that Rishi Sunak is chancellor, his dream for Britain is – for good or ill – fast becoming reality.

This week, alliances of port owners, businesses and local authorities must submit their bids to establish free ports, competing to set up zones exempt from normal tax and regulation.

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