Brexit White Paper response focuses on trade and labour

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Brexit White Paper has sparked renewed calls to safeguard trade and access to migrant labour
The Brexit White Paper has sparked renewed calls to safeguard trade and access to migrant labour

Related tags: World trade organization, International trade, European union

The government has been warned against relying solely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules to ensure Britain’s export success after Brexit.

Responding to the Brexit White Paper – setting out the government’s plans for quitting the EU – the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI’s) director general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “Falling back on WTO rules would be damaging so the pressure is on to deliver the best possible deal, as well as a smooth and orderly exit.”

While welcoming the greater clarity about the government’s position on Brexit, Fairbairn added: “It is vital that the business voice continues to be heard loud and clear in the UK and across Europe to make a success of Brexit and ensure our future prosperity.”

The Brexit policy document set out 12 principles, which the government said would guide its Brexit planning and negotiations.

Included in the proposals were: securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU, protecting workers’ rights and ensuring free trade with European markets. Read the full 12-point list in the box below.

‘Skills and labour shortages’

Businesses would welcome the opportunity to help design a post-Brexit migration system that works for all sectors, said the CBI boss. “The UK faces skills and labour shortages so, is critical that business has access to the graduate and non-graduate workers our economy needs to thrive.”

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF also praised the greater clarity delivered by the White Paper. “There is more emphasis now on a phased implementation of whatever deal is reached on future trading arrangements, which is important for businesses who will have to navigate through this,” ​said EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler.

He also welcomed the government’s commitment to seek as much “free and frictionless trade”​ as possible.

But the proposals for new immigration controls remained “thin on the ground”, ​he added. “While the commitment to controlling our borders is made clear, we need an equally positive commitment to ensuring companies can employ and deploy the people they choose with minimal restrictions and red tape.”

New immigration controls

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds welcomed the pledge to protect workers’ rights and urged the government to give businesses time to adjust to new legislation.

“I welcome the government’s commitment to protect workers’ rights, and to work with industry to secure the status of EU citizens in the UK. There is also a recognition that there may be a need for a phased process of implementation in this area, so that businesses have time to adjust, ”​ said Simmonds.

BBPA research revealed 27% of  its members’ workforce were from overseas. That figure rose to more than one third (40%) in metropolitan areas.

Simmonds also praised the commitment to exports. “The focus on exports is also welcome, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure that opportunities to create new markets for British beer are maximised.”

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation told “We welcome the additional detail on the government’s strategy provided in today’s White Paper, which we will be studying closely.”

The government’s Brexit policy document is titled  ‘The UK’s exit from and a new partnership with the European Union’​.


The government's 12 Brexit principles

  1. Providing certainty and clarity
  2. Taking control of our own laws
  3. Strengthening the union
  4. Protecting our strong historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area
  5. Controlling immigration
  6. Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU
  7. Protecting workers’ rights
  8. Ensuring free trade with European markets
  9. Securing new trade agreements with other countries
  10. Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation
  11. Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism
  12. Delivering a smooth and orderly exit from the EU

Source: ‘The UK’s exit from and a new partnership with the European Union’

Related topics: Legal

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