On Thursday last, the Business Secretary Greg Clark came perilously close to admitting that Brexit and Theresa May’s “red lines” will hurt “ordinary people”, UK citizens who live in the UK.
He was speaking at an International Business Festival in Liverpool and explaining how important the services sector was, not only in its own right but as part of the manufacturing sector.
When people think about the services sector they usually think about the City of London – insurance, investments and banking.
But that is only part of the story. The service sector embraces accountants, lawyers, publicists and marketing professionals, safety and service engineers, IT professionals, people who advise on supply-chain management and Just-In-Time manufacturing processes…
Many of these people need to have their professional qualifications recognised in the countries they work in, to satisfy national regulations or to satisfy the quality assurance procedures of the companies they work for.
All of them need to have freedom of movement, freedom of operation to be able to travel to where they need to work.
According to Greg Clark, the EU is by far and away the largest consumer of UK services, £90 billion in 2016, giving us a surplus of £14 billion. The next 8 largest services export markets do not add up to the size of the EU market.
More than a third of the value of the UK’s manufacturing exports is actually services, the in-service support and maintenance following on from the initial sale.
Why highlight all this in the context of our Millions in the Margins campaign?
The people we are talking about are resident in the UK, and even if they are currently classified as cross-border workers (and many will not be), only have limited protection under the current exit terms.
Of course if the people are EU27 citizens with the right to reside in the UK they will not only have their qualifications recognised under the terms of the exit agreement their freedom of movement in the EU27 countries is also guaranteed.
Another example of how the tick-box approach to negotiations is prejudicing the EU citizenship rights of UK citizens.
With Theresa May’s “red lines”, there is little prospect of them being protected under any future trade deal between the UK and the EU.
Some of these people are employees of large companies, some are owner/operators of Small/Medium sized Enterprises, and others are self-employed or sole traders.
All of them are at best in the margins of the current draft exit agreement, some of them are actually off the page and have not even been considered by the UK or the EU in their negotiations.
This is yet another example of the over-simplification of the situations of real people, who are likely to suffer real harm if the UK and the EU persist in not recognising them and the problems they will face.
If we want what is Best for the UK we need to know how people will be affected by the UK leaving the EU.
This is not speculation, nor is it “Project Fear”, in fact what we are describing is the outcome under what is probably the most favourable of available Brexit outcomes.
With Theresa May’s “Red Lines” and her tendency to follow the dictates of those who favour a Hard Brexit the reality could well be a lot worse.
Mind you at least Greg Clark is still arguing on behalf of business as opposed to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt who seem to be giving them the proverbial finger.
Whether you want a “Soft Brexit” or “No Brexit” we need this information about how ordinary people are being ignored, their rights diluted and devalued and how our children’s futures are being thrown under a big red bus covered in lies.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.