While we’ve all been hiding away in our own homes coming to terms with our new normal these past few months in the UK, it doesn’t mean things aren’t happening on the outside when it comes to a certain matter called Brexit. Yes, Brexit is back— well to be honest it never really went away, it’s just been bumbling along in the background with our government and the EU thrashing out the negotiation terms for when it’s time to leave.
As Tamara Cincik and her team at Fashion Roundtable remind us all, the deadline for Brexit is looming. People’s awareness will only start increasing when the lockdown starts to fully lift come the end of June, and as we head into July more businesses will open and we’ll start to see the real impact of COVID-19 on businesses up and down the country. The attention of business owners will inevitably be brought back to Brexit. Will there be an extension due to pandemic getting in the way of discussions and decisions? Probably not, why? Boris Johnson has always stood firm in staying ‘We Will Get Brexit Done’. Isn’t that what swung the vote to the conservatives during the General Election in 2019?
As Navjyot Lehl, part of the team at the leading think tank ‘UK In A Changing Europe’ says, regardless of no deal or a re-negotiated deal, UK based businesses will get a shiny new trade border for goods and services. Meanwhile imports into the UK will face new trade barriers if we don’t extend the deadline. Director of Alinea London, Holly Jade O’Leary mentioned, the export and import tariffs could rise by 8-12% which will have a huge financial impact on fashion business across the country.
As it stands the UK is not willing to except any level playing fields from the EU— and rumour has it, the UK government currently doesn’t want to adhere to the Sustainable Agenda which has been set out by the EU. This will be a huge blow for the UK Businesses and people who are working towards these goals.
Negotiations will carry on throughout the summer months and so much needs to be discussed from the fisheries to security factors. The Fashion Industry has a huge proportion of service based positions— from garment workers to fashion stylists and others who aren’t even recognised in this percentage. This is a key area which needs to be on the agenda as 80% of the UK economy is made up of service based positions.
This then links to immigration which was the backbone for brexiteers supporting the little England approach and not wanting to rely on EU workers for positions across the country. We do very much rely on the EU workforce, and Fashion Roundtable are compiling a survey to highlight how the fashion sector must be placed on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in the new points based immigration system.
How does Covid-19 fit into all this? Well clearly it’s going to be used (if not already) as the excuse to why our UK trade and economy has taken a huge dive. If Brexit heads towards being a no deal scenario, then it will be pivotal to understand which sectors where impacted under which factor.
Swati Dhingra, Associate Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, outlined that things are looking fairly bad for businesses and individuals. Currently we’re trying to avoid the levels of unemployment seen in the 80s when we come out of Covid-19. How can we change this? Yes, one option is to bring manufacturing back onshore, however we need to have the workers from the EU to be able to come into the UK and work. Round in circles we go.
Tamara Cincik, Fashion Roundtable CEO put it perfectly;
‘Right now we’re in a combination of multi-layers of economic disasters’.
I couldn’t agree more.
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