Storm on it's way: Is Brexit a risk or an opportunity for Cornwall? How best should we prepare?

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Second Brexit Summit at Showground, Wadebridge, Thursday

Having no plan for post Brexit is a common piece of dirt the Remainers like to throw at the Brexiteers.

Understandably, all eyes have been on Westminster this week and the ‘historic’ Brexit debate and vote. Cornwall though, always ahead of the game, has already started thinking and planning ahead – a second Brexit summit on the plan for a post Brexit future will convene at The Showground , Wadebridge on Thursday.

As sure a thing as a February storm hitting our beaches, Cornwall will be hit by Storm Brexit.

Of course we will be, says one side, everywhere will be, but we are exposed more than most, sticking out, face to the wind, in danger of serious damage, battered by loss of funding, with our most generous benefactor and protector washed away in the swell.

Or, on the other side, there’s a massive wave coming and dude you better get your shorts on and catch the ride, Cornwall is going look outward to the world again, trading across the seas, innovating and selling our skills in every land like the good ol’ days.

Thursday’s Summit is being hosted by Council Leader John Pollard and the Bishop of St Germans the Right Reverend Chris Goldsmith, with support from members of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Futures Group.

The programme will include an update on the work of the Futures Group, which was set up after the first Brexit Summit held last July to develop a proposal to the Government for a post-Brexit economic investment programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

There will also be a series of workshops looking at proposals to mitigate the risks and grasp the opportunities relating to the decision to leave the EU. This will focus on the themes of People,  Place & Prosperity.

Around 40 people have been invited to take part in the Summit – including Cornwall’s MPs, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, NFU, Cornish Fish Producers Organisation among others.

 

The House of Commons Select Committee on Exiting the EU, chaired by former shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn MP will be crossing the Tamar in the next week or two to look at this coordinated activity, and discuss the situation with a range of local people.

Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard commented “After the referendum result last summer, everyone I spoke to in Cornwall was determined that we should not only identify and work out how to minimise the risks for us, but also work hard at spotting all the positive opportunities, and begin shaping how we can make the most of them. Following discussions with the Local Government Association I am confident that we are doing more in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to co-ordinate our approach to Brexit than virtually any other area of the UK”.

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Cllr John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council

Speaking as the initial findings of the work are published, Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce added

“Although nationally there is still a great deal of uncertainty this is a good time to share the progress we have been making. I am grateful to the many people from all parts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who’ve been involved in the discussions so far, from university academics to top business leaders, from farmers to the voluntary sector, from restauranteurs to fishermen, and to the two Councils. As a community we are very strong when the whole community comes together with a single purpose of planning how to give Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the best future possible.”

 

Examples of the positive opportunities spotted, and the risks identified that need to be carefully managed are:

Opportunity – building on international links and reputation, welcoming tourists from beyond Europe, capitalising on current exchange rates that make the UK a favourable holiday destination
Risk – workforce uncertainties, as the hospitality sector relies on a lot of seasonal workers from EU countries

Opportunity – ability for local fishermen to more directly influence the future of fishing post Brexit
Risk – uncertainty over future fisheries and conservation regime post EU

Opportunities – ability to shape a new and more market-focused UK agriculture policy focused on farming, environment and landscape outcomes; better opportunities to market Cornwall produce
Risk – concerns over negative effects caused by changes in the Common Agriculture Policy payment regime; workforce uncertainties

Opportunity – Opportunity to lobby for recruitment of students and academics from all over world
Risk – EU academic and research networks and funding within the EU

 

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