Less politics and more pragmatism is the key to a successful Brexit

Brexit will bring with it enough challenges and we must set aside politics and act in our best economic interests.

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 23rd, Jun

There was a collective sigh of relief in the business world this week when Chancellor Phillip Hammond said “jobs and prosperity’ would top the agenda in the Brexit negotiations.

He talked about a three-point plan for Britain’s exit from the EU… a comprehensive trade agreement, a transitional deal after the 2019 deadline and a commitment to open borders.

This will be music to the ears of businesses, particularly exporters, across the Liverpool city region who were alarmed by Theresa May’s initial combative approach to the talks with her “no deal is better than a bad deal” comment.

Future prosperity

This isn't an episode of Dad’s Army. This is the real world where our future prosperity is strongly linked to a continuing solid relationship with Europe.

We don’t want to argue with our European neighbours or play politics with the millions of workers who have prospered thanks to free movement. We simply want to do business with them.

Free movement, in particular, is a major issue for many firms in the Liverpool city region, particularly those finding it difficult to recruit skilled workers.

Hard-hitting report

Today EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has published a new report - ‘Making migration work for manufacturers: Accessing skills in a post-Brexit world’.

In the report it warned that ending free movement of skilled workers from the EU to the UK could have a “chilling” effect on North West manufacturers.

It is calling on the Government to move swiftly to give companies early certainty that they will continue to be able to recruit low-skilled EU nationals until the UK labour market is able to support businesses’ demand with home-grown workers.

Hard to recruit

The report reveals that three quarters of manufacturers have struggled to fill engineering roles. 

This figure is set to rise, it claims, if we see post-Brexit restrictions to migration which apply a cap for companies employing EU staff, along the lines of the current rules currently in force for non-EU employees working in the UK.

Manufacturers interviewed as part of the report said they need unfettered access to “appropriate workers” with the skills industry needs, adding that European employees should be able to come to the UK to work for up to five years.

Skills gap

There is no question we need to upskill our home-grown workforce and Liverpool & Sefton Chamber has long championed the idea that a major investment in training and apprenticeships is the key to raising productivity levels, both at a regional and national level.

But in the short to medium-term firms need access to a pipeline of skilled workers.

Brexit will bring with it enough challenges and we must set aside politics and act in our best economic interests.

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