UK Government Backs Industry in Brexit Talks

UK Government Backs Industry in Brexit Talks

Last week, I had a bit of a rant about the UK government’s lack of a straightforward plan for Brexit. Good timing I guess, because straight afterwards, the government seemed to have tried to get its act together. Politicians from either side of the Cabinet divide publicly made up and detailed a compromise plan that both parties would accept. Straight after that, the UK government published an outline for the Irish border and other pressing Brexit matters. The reaction to the government’s plan was mixed from both the press and the EU, but at least it is starting to feel like the UK is actually moving forward.

For the tech industry, the details of the plan were encouraging, at least in the sense that the government made industry a priority. You can get an overview of the full outline here. The government stressed continued commitment to its Modern Industrial Strategy plan, revealed in a green paper in January of this year. The plan set out industries that the government has assessed the country has strengths, and backs those with money from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The featured industries include smart energy, robotics and artificial intelligence and 5G mobile.

The Modern Industrial Strategy plan also looks to please manufacturers with policies to boost skills training, especially in STEM subjects, and upgrade the country’s infrastructure. There were also promises on green energy, business support, improved government procurement and inward investment. A £556m cash boost was allocated to the government’s Northern Powerhouse scheme to try and revitalise areas which have been left behind in the north of England.

Perhaps the most encouraging news for industry, was that the government will seek to form an agreement with the EU on a new customs union. The messaging from this part of the plan is a bit muddled, as the majority of the press pointed out. But, the fact that the government realises that the European supply chain is vital to UK industry, and will at least try to work on a solution is a relief, especially after Cabinet members had threatened to walk away from the single market and customs union. 

The vast majority of the UK’s companies, especially technology companies, may not want to leave the EU, but as things stand it looks more and more likely that it is going to happen. This week has shown that industry is a priority in the government’s plan for Brexit Britain, so hopefully things will continue in that direction. This week’s news will also come as a relief to manufacturers in Europe, who rely on UK parts in their own supply chains. Hopefully not too much damage has been done to the UK’s industry in the meantime.