Thursday, 9 February 2017

Hilary Benn's Brexit Committee visit to Cornwall

 The Council expected protests (presumably from Remainers) today and were all geared up for a surge. In fact only a few officers and the press attended.

Three members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Exiting the European Union visited Cornwall.

If you would like to watch the whole of the proceedings click HERE but below are some of the highlights of the evidence they were given by the Council and other stakeholders like the National Union of Farmers:

1. The Council leadership is looking to Wales for advice.
2. Brexit Opportunity:getting Government money without EU constraints on its use but who knows how   much money.
3. Cornwall is worried that Dept of Local Government has introduced a 'value for money' test and is asking the Council to underwrite schemes for which the Govt provides cash.
4.Cornwall will not benefit from £350m of EU funds in 2020 to 2027 but see 2 and 3 above.
5 . Fishing : 92% of catch is exported. So very important to get a tariff free deal.
6. Brexit opportunity : Staycations have increased due to fall in value of sterling.
7.Council worried about uneven standard of hotel accommodation in Cornwall.  Some German tourists stay in Torbay and make forays into Cornwall.  Constraint on tourism.
8.Brexit opportunity : have a bespoke farming subsidy scheme.
9.Council considering a regional immigration deal for Cornwall  (as are London and Scotland) to avoid labour shortages in farming, food processing, IT, research (and also to encourage foreign students).
10. World Trade tariff rules no good for Cornwall which has 6% GVA in agriculture and food processing. (eg 40% on UK lamb exports).
11. Brexit has had a negative effect on investment in Cornwall. 
12. Brexit opportunity : integrate rules to promote agriculture with rules to protect the environment.
13. Brexit opportunity : make rules less complex but there may be unintended consequences and we will still be affected by EU rules and ideally want to influence them.
14. New markets are there but say, out of £300m per annum sheep exports, £280m currently goes to EU. Hard to replace.
15. Worries about future name protection of Cornish pasty and clotted cream etc.
16. Worries agriculture may be sidelined in bespoke trade deals as tiny part of total export values (2% with fishing /forestry?)
17. Worries no level playing field for agriculture as some other markets have different standards eg US market is less stringent about antibiotics use and growth  hormones.
18.  Some evidence of software companies considering relocating to EU but sounded very anecdotal.
19. The  Cornwall Isles of Scilly Futures Group has written a paper  'Catalyst for Change' and is determined to make the most of the Brexit opportunities.

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