BFC and creative industries group call for another referendum

today Jan 17, 2019
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The British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) are among a raft of business groups calling on the UK government to hold a second Brexit referendum.

The UK's creative industries are urging the government to hold a second Brexit referendum

The Brexit issue is no nearer a resolution following Tuesday’s rejection by MP’s of the negotiated EU exit deal and Wednesday evening’s defeated ‘no-confidence’ motion. And business is growing increasingly alarmed at the lack of clarity and the government’s unwillingness to categorically rule out a no-deal exit.

“As the British Fashion Council, we cannot emphasise strongly enough that a no-deal Brexit is a scenario that should be avoided at all costs,” the BFC said. “The ongoing uncertainty and confusion that a no-deal creates will have a negative impact on our industry, where investment is already impacted from the uncertainty being faced. A no-deal situation will result in no transition period, and with an industry that is predominantly small-medium enterprises, we would struggle to cope with the trade realities that it would bring.”

The problems would be undeniably acute for those small and medium-sized businesses. They would find it much harder to deal with the ‘red tape’ that would come with a new, no-deal regime and they also have fewer resources to fall back on if they see doors closing to their exports, import costs rising, and consumers reining-in their spending.

And the BFC is particularly concerned about problems for the supply of talent. While it has been working with the Home Office since the referendum result in 2016 to clarify the visa situation (for designers, models, store staff and more), it says big challenges on this front remain.

Meanwhile CIF said leaders of all political parties should back a new vote, something both Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seem determined to avoid doing.

CIF’s chief executive Alan Bishop said: “We have now reached an undeniable cliff edge, and it is imperative that our political parties do what is necessary to prevent the extreme damage that will be caused if we crash out of the EU.”

He underlined the importance of the free movement of goods, services, capital and people as far as “our ability to attract talent, tour freely, and trade on our doorstep” are concerned. He also said that 96% of the group’s members voted Remain.

He admitted that a second vote would mean continued uncertainty (it would take some time to organise another referendum), but said a no-deal exit “would have catastrophic consequences for the [creative] sector.”

CIF claims that creative industries are the fastest-growing part of the British economy and employ 9% of the population.

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