It has officially been a year since Article 50 has been triggered, and to fit in EEF, The Manufacturers’ Organisation hosted the Making Brexit Work – Preparing Manufacturers for Brexit conference in Newcastle on 28th March. The event brought together around 60 North East business and manufacturing leaders to identify key concerns and opportunities presented by Brexit.
The event is the second in the EEF’s Brexit roadshow series. It is a response to EEF member’s calls for greater clarity on the implications of Brexit on their day-to-day operations.
Attendees heard from national and regional government leaders, specialist advisers and policy experts, providing the latest insight and practical guidance on Brexit directly to North East manufacturers. Topics discussed were Brexit’s impact on imports and exports, trade, migration and skills.
Underlining the event’s importance, the Department for Exiting the EU’s recent economic analysis found that the North East will be the worst affected region by Brexit. The analysis suggests that both no deal and free trade deal scenarios could lead to 16% and 11% reduction’s in the region’s economy respectively.
Challenging these figures will require innovative thinking, and strong support from policymakers. The conference was there to aim to kickstart this process with the regions crucial manufacturing sector. Lord John Shipley, Vice President of the LGA, and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson with responsibilities for regional development; Henry Newman, Director of Open Europe; Deputy Directors from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Exiting the EU; and experts from the British Standards Institute, the Institute for Government and EEF were also all there to make speeches.
Hilary Douglas, Head of Corporate Affairs, EEF, said: “We are one year on from the triggering of Article 50, and manufacturers are still desperate for clarity so that they can prepare for Brexit. The high levels of sign-up we’ve received to our roadshow series is testament to this demand. Getting Brexit right for manufacturers is not only critical for the sector, but also for the UK economy.
“Delegates at our Newcastle conference heard from a range of EU experts, both from within Government and the wider policy and academic environment. We have aimed to provide a clearer picture of the challenges Brexit may present and the tools needed to develop detailed and robust contingency plans.”
Lord Shipley, who was a Board Member of the NE Regional Development Agency and Deputy Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Regional Growth Fund, said: “The clock is ticking, and it is ever-more crucial that we prepare the North East’s manufacturing industries for Brexit, whatever form it takes. Yesterday’s event focused on ensuring that both manufacturers and policymakers are Brexit-proofing effectively, but also identifying any potential opportunities presented by leaving the EU.
“If there is one thing I wish to take away from the conference, it is that the views and concerns of our region’s businesses are heard loud and clear by Government.”