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Brexit and business tax rates threaten burgeoning British fashion talent

3 min read

Brexit’s influence on the fashion industry and the wider economy has been largely overlooked in political debates, says Dr Lisa Cameron MP.

It is certainly no secret that fashion hates Brexit, as Katharine Hamnett’s famous shirts proudly pronounce. However, Brexit’s influence on the fashion industry and the wider economy has been largely overlooked in political debates. As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fashion and Textiles, I hear the frustration and fears of those in the fashion industry loud and clear.

With Brexit continually uncertain, it is extremely difficult for businesses to prepare for its effects. Under a hard Brexit scenario, the fashion industry could be facing tariffs of 11%, which would equate to over £1 billion each year.

The looming threat of restrictions on trade and free movement will produce vast challenges for the industry – which employs 10,000 European staff and imports £10 billion in shoes and clothing from Europe.

Unsurprisingly, 96% of those in the fashion industry would vote Remain in a second referendum.

In the face of a hard or no deal Brexit, major fashion firms may relocate parts of their business to the continent, and some reputedly have these plans in place.

These changes could prove hugely detrimental to the UK’s cultural and economic development.

Fashion's economic contribution

The fashion industry contributes £32.3 billion to the UK economy each year and employs 890,000 people, but at present remains largely undervalued. For context, the fishing industry for the entire UK only makes £1.4 billion, yet has been at the centre of numerous political debates.

Recognising the need for greater intersection across Parliament and the fashion industry, Stylist Tamara Cincik founded Fashion Roundtable.

The Fashion Roundtable has produced a Brexit Report and Manifesto, detailing Brexit’s impact on fashion and their proposals moving forward.

They are hosting a Fashion and Brexit Question Time event on 29 April with a panel of experts who will help clarify Brexit and its implications for business owners and designers.

In working closely with Members of Parliament like myself, Tamara Cincik has made great strides in increasing communication and collaboration across sectors.

Business rates

Beyond Brexit, the Fashion Roundtable and the APPG for Fashion and Textiles will be hosting a roundtable on May 1st to discuss the economic challenges facing retail stores and high streets, especially amid high business tax rates.

With current business rates, 16 UK high street stores close each day, from small businesses to major chains.

These business losses have a huge impact for the fashion industry, jobs, livelihoods and the UK economy.

With such stark economic challenges, burgeoning talent in the fashion industry may be stifled, which would be a further detriment to both cultural and economic growth.

However, with collaboration between the fashion industry and the parliamentary group, there will be improvements in addressing these issues and supporting upcoming British designers.

The UK fashion industry has such diversity in its culture and talent. I look forward to continually celebrating and championing our designers’ creativity.


Dr Lisa Cameron is SNP MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.

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