Fashion Roundtable Despatch April 2018
POLITICS • ECONOMICS • BUSINESS
Fashion in Parliament:
Westminster Hall Debate
Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, hosted a Westminster Hall debate this month focusing on the impact of leaving the EU, on tourism and the creative industries. Christine spoke brilliantly about the positive impacts we have been presenting to Parliament over the last 6 months and we hope to work with her on this issue further. The Shadow Minister, Kevin Brennan, directly engaged with the second of our three Brexit Manifesto recommendations ("Continue our Involvement in EU Cultural,
Educational and Business Programmes"), an excellent piece of engagement we will hope to grow in the coming weeks. Supporting the continued involvement of Britain in European educational and cultural programmes is essential to the UK creative industries continued success and is a key element of our work.
John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, spoke this month about the strength and power of Scottish fashion. Fashion Roundtable is currently scoping out a new report and research project focused on exposing the true value of Scottish fashion and his engagement on this area will be a key element of this work.
In our work as the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Textiles and Fashion, we are also working on an integrated UK wide message, with our Chair Dr Lisa Cameron MP, keen to also highlight the Scottish fashion and textiles landscape. Our next meeting is on 16/05 at the Houses of Parliament.
Observations: Division and Debate. Eszter Kantor: Fashion Roundtable's UK Politics Expert.
Brexit and Trade
With 10 months remaining until the Brexit cut-off date (March 31, 2019), negotiators are yet to produce a final version of the withdrawal and transition agreements.
Earlier this year the EU has produced its first draft of both documents which were contested to some degree by the UK negotiating team.
The two key areas of concern remain: -
(1) the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
(2) the future customs arrangement between the UK and the EU.
While politicians have been keen to emphasise their eagerness to avoid any cliff edge scenario that would leave businesses hanging in the air, the current situation is achieving exactly that.
Trust is entered into business agreements as a currency. Businesses are asked to trust politicians in that trade will continue to be as frictionless as today at least until December 31, 2020.
However, until there is no written agreement confirming post-Brexit trade relations, companies that rely on forward orders for next year may find their operating risks increase.
The monetary value of this risks increase may become apparent in the coming months when supply chain partners raise prices as a result of the uncertain future of tariff free trade.
Brexit is not the only trade issue impacting the European region. The EU's largest external trade partner, the United States, has recently announced new measures against steel imports. While the EU has been promised to be exempted from the new steel tariffs, this has not yet happened.
After some strong political messages and even threats of a trade war EU decision makers are now in a wait-and-see mode. Tariffs introduced to protect one's market from fair competition are in violation of WTO procedures and set a worrisome precedent which may be echoed by other large markets.
Waiting idly for decisions that will violate international agreements does not help trading relations but provide a good indication of the increasing uncertainty and operational risks EU and UK based companies are facing today. As a result we may soon see inflation increase as more and more businesses may calculate with a price cushion to negate the possible sudden appearance of trade barriers. This is bad news for consumers as well as for businesses that can lose their competitive positions against stakeholders from other regions that remain unaffected by these events.
Particularly as the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TTP): the 11 country free trade deal from which the new US administration has withdrawn from, is now under ratification procedure and is likely to be implemented by 2019.
For a bespoke understanding of the Brexit and trade issues Eszter raises here, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
After the local elections, what do voters think about Brexit now?
Local elections have historically offered a valuable insight into the mood of the nation, and similarly, the content and focus of local election campaigns can shed some light on what the pollsters think matter to voters.
Like the General Election almost exactly a year ago, both major parties actively sought to move the election conversation away from Brexit, a tactic indicative of the challenges both are facing, to ameliorate the internal tensions over the issue. This approach has led to renewed vibrancy in the centre of British politics, and the new political party ‘ Renew’ hoped to build on the Brexit anxiety. London should have been a hive of this kind of vibrancy, but results were instead determined by Windrush, anti-semitism and the continued surge of young voters.
Kingston and Twickenham yet again proved to be constituencies set on fighting the Brexit battle for the rest of the country and the Liberal Democrats were victorious again. The Liberal Democrats will argue that they were the overall victors this time round, increasing their total seat count by 75. Conversely, UKIP have now well and truly been consigned to political irrelevance, as they lost all but 3 of their seats. If there was any direct indication of leave vs remain, it was this.
London is well and truly a Labour strong-hold now, with the Tories losing the popular vote in Wandsworth to Labour (despite conceding only a handful of seats), and coming very close to doing the same in Kensington and Chelsea. The only areas with cause for concern for labour are in the north of the capital, where anti-semitism proved to be a decisive instruction for voting patterns. Failure to tackle this internal party issue could prove costly for Catherine West MP in an upcoming General Election and have implications for neighbouring seats, where the Tory majority has been narrowed to the 200s.
The rest of the country largely represented business as usual, with only a few upsets taking place, notably Labour’s victory in Trafford. Business as usual is an important consideration here and the domination of this has blurred the overall outcome of the elections, with both sides taking the results as opportunities to claim mandates for their approach. Brexit should have represented an entrenchment of radical policies, Parliamentary rebellions and fierce elections, but instead, the cost of losing any ground is now greater to the two main political parties, than the cost of getting Brexit wrong.
If we have learnt anything from these elections then, it is that politics needs some disruption, an alteration to the status quo. If we do not stand up and allow our voice to be heard, we can be confident that the outcome from Brexit, will unlikely be in the form we wish.
Fashion Roundtable In Conversation for SHOWstudio discussing our Brexit Paper and Manifesto.
Fashion Roundtable March Political Meetings
Fashion Roundtable attended a DIT stakeholder event for updates on Brexit from civil servants across DIT, Dexeu, to lobby for the fashion industry, in Whitehall.
Fashion Roundtable attended events hosted by UK In A Changing Europe to discuss Brexit policy.
Fashion Roundtable attended the Fashion Revolution Parliamentary Question Time for Fashion Revolution Week #whomademyclothes
Fashion Roundtable organised the agenda and invitees for the APPG for Textiles and Fashion on Fashion Trade with the Commonwealth, at the Houses of Parliament meeting 16/05.