Lord Clement Jones: Theresa May's vision for Brexit is going to be a culture shock
4 min read
Government must safeguard the creative economies during Brexit says Lord Clement Jones, Lib Dem Spokesperson for the Digital Economy.
The importance of the creative industries to our economy must be safeguarded as we begin the process of leaving the European Union. Yet we are still almost as much in the dark about the implications of Brexit for those industries as we were six months ago. The Prime Minister mentioned a number of sectors in her speech this week but notably not the creative industries.
In the UK we are a vital hub for the TV, Design, Games, Visual effects, Publishing Film, Advertising, Music, and Fashion industries. They make a contribution of over £87 billion to the UK economy, they employ nearly two million people and are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy.
As a result, we are second in the world only after the US for cultural influence – or soft power. After all what other country has instantly recognisable characters such as Harry Potter, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes in quite the way we do?
Their exports alone are worth £20 billion and the fact is that the EU is the largest export market for the UK creative industries, accounting for 42% of their trade in the sector. This is not all digital or audio-visual. Europe, with 31% of the total, is the largest market for physical book exports.
The other aspect that is of key importance is the relationship of this sector to the Tech sector. Their relationship and interdependence is becoming more and more important for Britain’s future. Increasingly tech platforms need creative content. And they both rely on creative skills. They are both strongly impacted by government policies on superfast broadband rollout, on spectrum allocation and of course by the outcome of Brexit on our telecoms sector whose consumers have benefited so strongly from an EU wide regulatory regime.
It is not always easy to generalise about the creative industries since they have many individual characteristics - but there are some very strong common themes which emerge from the work that the creative industries have done so far in responding to the prospect of Brexit: the first and most crucial is the need for access to talent which is greatly boosted by freedom of movement.
Will European trademarks no longer have protection in the UK? Will our artists continue to have the benefit of artists’ resale rights? Then there is the Community design right which is so important for the fashion industry, giving much more extensive rights to designers than UK design right. Will we preserve that? Then of course there are many EU proposals currently on foot which will impact on our creative industries if we don’t have a seat at the table to argue their corner.
We need a commitment to action by government on Brexit which supports our creative industries. We need an industrial strategy for the creative industries which incorporates all the above elements. What I have outlined is not some special pleading, it is a hard headed calculation of what is necessary for the continued success of the UK creative industries after Brexit.
They need to be able to compete in a global environment. We have competition from players operating with larger domestic markets and many up and coming agile competitors. Leaving the EU and leaving the Single Market makes us vulnerable without robust action and negotiation, especially if the Prime Minister and David Davies envisages that we may leave without any deal at all or with minimal transitional arrangements.
The Government needs to demonstrate that they absolutely grasp these issues and are pursuing a strategy to deliver a trade agenda and an industrial strategy for the creative industries that meets the case – anything less will be a betrayal of one of our most thriving sectors.
Lord Clement Jones is a Liberal Democrat peer, and Spokesperson for the Digital Economy
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