Brexit: Limiting the damage


With a wave of mass migration during the 1960s the faltering cotton industry was propped up on the backs of thousands of South Asian migrants searching for new lives and prosperity.

The hard-working attitude of this diaspora community has been passed on by generations, contributing significantly towards today’s Lancashire work ethic.

But this powerful and consistent industrial history that we are lucky to share together is under threat by Brexit and the prospect of a so-called “hard” exit from the EU.

Regardless of how it happens Brexit is going to be bad for business, so limiting the damage is the best option we have right now and this means retaining our Single Market membership. Anything less would be senseless, damaging Lancashire and the country.

A key argument of Brexiters is of being able to broker our own trade deals with the rest of the world.

This is all well and good, but the reality of it is quite different. As chairman of the South Asia Trade Monitoring Committee in the European Parliament - as well as having been the institution’s lead negotiator on an EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) - my experience has been that trade deals are never quite as simple or easy to conclude as Brexiters like to imply.

What’s more is that the UK has for a long time now acted as a link. It has been the business bridge into the EU for Commonwealth countries, such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - in part due to our sizeable diaspora community, but mostly due to our Commonwealth family ties.

Without this link these nations will have no choice but to move their business with the EU to other member states.

They will also have to turn to Germany, France, Italy, Spain and others to promote their interests in the EU. We lose influence as well as business activity. With it goes investment, jobs and prosperity. The irony in this is that it is these very Commonwealth countries that Brexiters wish to negotiate new FTAs with.