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So we now know: jobs and the UK economy will come second

February 3, 2020 6:00 PM

Johnson government sends EU a message before trade talks begin: stating that Brexit means sovereignty and trumps the economy. Brexit

This will be a blow to UK businesses in the East where the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) modelling had pointed to East Anglia being one of the areas most affected by Brexit, suffering a decrease in GDP in 2030 relative to remaining in the EU," the report says. Evidence* suggests that some local businesses had already voted with their feet, relocating - either partially or fully - to the EU.

* Suffolk Jobs lost to the EU in 2019/20

German multinational engineering firm Bosch transferred its garden machinery operation from Stowmarket to Hungary at the end of last year with the loss of 135 jobs.

Drugs company Sanofi decided in 2019 to plan for a hard Brexit and diverted some of its very lucrative 'label and pack' rare diseases medicines operations from Haverhill to France and Ireland with the loss of 24 jobs because of potential complexities around moving pharmaceuticals to the EU.

Baby bottle making business Philips Avent is set to close its plant at Glemsford this year, with the loss of 425 jobs, and relocate to the Netherlands and Indonesia.

US-owned Delphi Technologies is closing its Sudbury plant this year to move to Romania with the loss of 200 jobs - the remnants of a much larger workforce of 500 in 2017 since when many have taken enhanced redundancy packages.

The EU has repeatedly told Britain the level of access to its lucrative single market will depend on how far the Johnson Government agrees to adhere to a "level playing field" - with alignment on rules covering environmental standards, labour regulations and state aid.

EU Commission Head, Ursula von der Leyen said in an article published by European media on Friday that Britain cannot expect "the highest quality access to the single market" unless it adopts EU standards on the environment, workers' rights, tax and state aid. "

"Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership" said, Ursula von der Leyen. "Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services."

Despite appeals of many UK businesses for the government to ensure goods can trade across borders freely, ministers have been briefing companies that they should adjust to a new future when Britain will not adhere to EU rules.

Johnson's aim is a trade deal allowing for tariff - and quota-free trade in goods, similar to the terms the EU now has in place with Canada.

Without some hard guarantees from Britain over fair competition it is difficult to see how the UK can avoid border checks, something dismissed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Finally, in a report by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils compiled by consultants Metro Dynamics, The potential implications of Brexit for Norfolk and Suffolk the potential challenges and opportunities are outlined which could be brought about by Brexit on the sectors where the impact is assessed to be greatest - Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction, Offshore Wind Energy and Digital and Life Sciences.

The report looks at possible impacts on workforce, trade, regulation and funding. Among the challenges and opportunities it identifies are:

  • Retaining the current EU workforce, both low and highly skilled, who are key to the future success of some of Norfolk and Suffolk's most important sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and life sciences.

The Eastern region is heavily dependent on EU workers in agriculture and significant staff shortages combined with barriers to export will not only impact on future production but result in an increase in food imports.

  • The importance of ensuring continued funding for research and development and innovation, as well as alternative sources of funding for agriculture and farming businesses that often rely on EU subsidies.

This report follows the publication last year (February 2017) of research into the value of European Union grant funding in the region, which showed that over £365million and £1.54billion from the European Investment Bank has been received across Norfolk and Suffolk since 2007.

The realities of Brexit

Since last Saturday Britain has the status of a foreign country and its officials now have restricted access to EU offices and internal communications. Diplomats of the EU-27 have been reminded not to share information with Britain freely anymore.

Sources: Reuters News Sovereignty comes first: Britain lays out tough stance for EU trade talksElizabeth Piper

New Anglia LEP Report

EADT East Anglia braces for Brexit: New report predicts economic woe PUBLISHED: 29 January 2020