It was a Spring Statement dominated by two Bs.

Most things in the world of business over the past two years have been dominated by the first – Brexit: the “B word” used as an attempt to try and numb the pain of the uncertainty created by the UK’s increasingly shambolic exit from the European Union.

But it was the second B – Borderlands – that really captured the imagination and led to widespread celebration in Cumbria. 

An announcement on The Borderlands Growth deal had been expected in the Autumn Budget, but never came. Whispers of an announcement in January followed, but failed to materialise.

As Brexit engulfed the Spring Statement, it was difficult to see anything on The Borderlands emerging through the fog. But it did. And when it came, it came big.

The Chancellor has, in the main, held back on major funding announcements given the Brexit-fuelled uncertainty hanging of the country, so the £260 million hand out to The Borderlands came as something of a shock. But a hugely welcome one.

Add to that the £85m from the Scottish government, The Borderlands now has a war chest of £345m. No bad at all.

I have covered The Borderlands from that start. It has been exciting to see it go from vision to being properly articulated through programmes and projects. 

But until money emerges behind grand plans such as these, it can be hard not to be sceptical. But the scepticism has melted away. Now there needs to be a sharp focus on spending this war chest wisely.

Borderlands programmes range from energy, digital, transport infrastructure, rural productivity, business support and skills, to promoting the region as a place to live, work and visit.

Projects in Cumbria include the Carlisle Station Gateway project, the Cumbria Local Enterprise match funded transformation of the iconic Citadel in the city centre and the potential to extend the Borders Railway.

The prize? Thousand of new jobs, millions more tourists, improved digital connectivity (a big issue in a largely rural area) and the unlocking of further investment, and the prospect of an even bigger prize that could stretch well beyond the £345m secured so far. Indeed, The Borderlands Partnership claim it could generate a £1.3bn return on the public’s investment.

The challenge with The Borderlands is always going to be spreading the money across what is a huge area including many places with worthy claims for investment. It will also be a test of the partnership of councils and politicians behind it (backed by business of course) and whether they will be adult about the financial power they yield. As former Chancellor now chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, George Osborne warned, they will have to not only accept but celebrate when money is spent outside their own boundaries.

There is no evidence (on the face of it at least) that will not be the case, but when money is involved it can be hard. It has certainly happened before in Cumbria. Hopefully they will keep their eye firmly fixed on the bigger picture. There is too much at stake. This is too big an opportunity to waste.

The positive news about The Borderlands dominated what a Spring Statement overshadowed by Brexit.

There was plenty of announcements of interest – a £700m boost to encourage apprenticeships among small businesses, measures to tackle late payment, progress on housing and on the environment.

And it was hard not to get swept up by Philip Hammond’s positive assessment of the economy – the economic growth forecasts, reduced public debt, job figures and so on. But it all came with a seriously big health warning. The future will only be rosy if a Brexit deal is secured.

On that front, the Government’s deal was knocked back a second time – and knocked back badly. Again. And while MPs voted to take no-deal off the table a day later, they then asak the EU if for an Article 50. Oh, and MPs also voted against a second referendum, or so-called "people's vote". Dizzy yet?

Theresa May is planning to go back a third time with her deal next week. But it is increasingly difficult to see a deal that has been voted down twice with get through regardless of all the background wheeling and dealing.

There is only so long this can be kicked down the road with EU elections this summer.

In the meantime, businesses and the public at large, are still non the wiser. The Government and, in fairness, the opposition, are failing to get a grip of the situation. And the SNP appear to want to use this to push its agenda forward to split Scotland from the UK. Like many, I’m not sure where that would leave The Borderlands.

As Mr Hammond was at pains to says during the Spring Statement, now really is the time to get a grip.