Publishers welcome 'clarity' on leaving European single market

Publishers welcome 'clarity' on leaving European single market

The Publishers Association (PA) and the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) have welcomed clarity provided by prime minister Theresa May's speech yesterday (17th January), confirming the UK will be leaving the single market. 

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive for the PA, said the organisation welcomed the prime minister's commitment to ensuring certainty for British businesses, after concluding UK government's post-Brexit aspirations were "incompatible" with single market membership. He stated tariff free trade, minimising barriers to operating in Europe and talent recruitment from abroad were all priorities for UK publishing.

IPG chief executive Bridget Shine said May's speech "at least provided some clarity about the future". Shine said she was also encouraged by May's stance pushing for the "freest possible trade" with European countries and to sign new deals with others across the world. Shine acknowledged there is still "plenty of uncertainty" before a smooth Brexit can be assured, but placed her confidence in indies' capabilities to meet both the opportunities and the challenges head on.

Lotinga said: “We welcome the prime minister's commitment to ensuring that there is certainty for British business through the Brexit negotiations. It’s become increasingly clear that the government’s aspiration for the country post Brexit is incompatible with continued membership of the single market.

“What matters now is ensuring that ministers get the very best possible deal for business through a free trade agreement with the fullest possible access to the single market. For UK publishing our priorities are tariff free trade, minimising barriers to operating in Europe, ensuring that publishers can continue to recruit the best possible talent and making sure that we don’t lose out on EU funds.”

Shine added: "While the large majority of IPG members were opposed to Brexit, the prime minister’s statement has at least provided some clarity about the future. It is encouraging that the government will push for the freest possible trade with European countries, and for trading agreements with countries beyond the EU. The news that Theresa May wants to continue to attract international talent to the UK to work and study is also welcome.

"There is still plenty of uncertainty about prospects for UK businesses in the single market, and a lot of issues to be resolved on trade, immigration and copyright before publishers can be confident about a smooth Brexit and future trading with international partners. But we know that independent publishers will be nimble in seeking opportunities and rising to challenges in the years ahead.”

The Creative Industries Federation agreed the speech provided "useful clarity" and welcomed May's vision of a global Britain. However, it noted there are issues yet to be addressed to assure the fulfillment of the UK’s arts and creative industries' potential. It called for a sector-by-sector approach to trade, including consideration of the digital single market, effective intellectual property rights protection, and continued participation in provenly beneficial European research and cultural programmes.

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: "The Federation welcomes the prime minister’s recognition of the urgent need for a reciprocal arrangement with the EU on its nationals working in the UK and those British citizens currently employed in the EU. As in science and tech, movement of talent in the creative industries has been a critical component in the expansion and success of the sector and we have benefited enormously from the skills and insight EU workers have brought.

"However, the willingness to continue to welcome the 'brightest and best' begs the question as to how that will be interpreted in future as the UK updates its outdated immigration system. Such judgements can be difficult to determine not least because, despite many well-paid workers in the creative sector, talent is not always commensurate with salary. There are also some specific skills gaps which will need to be recognised and addressed, not least the importance of freelances. 

"We understand the logic of the position of a government that prioritises controlling borders above all else to leave the single market. But it does make a sector-by-sector approach to trade particularly critical. The trade negotiations with the EU will need to include consideration of the digital single market, free flow of data and non-tariff barriers if the creative industries are to continue to thrive."

London mayor Sadiq Khan recently said he would be backing the creative industries "every step of the way" to ensure their interests are "defended" during the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Speaking at a Creative Industries Federation event earlier this month. Business secretary Greg Clark sought to reassure the creative industries during the same event that they would be "absolutely foundational” to the UK’s industrial strategy, building on culture secretary Karen Bradley's observation they are Britain's "soft power".

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) also welcomed a "pro-business Brexit" and a plan that "prioritises tariff-free trade", respectively.