• Second Annual Brexit Summit organised by Plymouth MP raises concerns about city’s readiness to leave the EU.
  • Labour MP Luke Pollard says “Government have put infighting over national interest.”
  • Local industry leaders from transport to fishing say no deal is a real worry for their business as Brexit deadline looms ever closer.

On Friday, Plymouth’s political and business leaders delivered a damning verdict at the Second Annual Plymouth Brexit Summit about the city’s readiness for leaving the European Union.

The Second Annual Plymouth Brexit Summit was organised by Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport – bringing together the region’s political leaders from Westminster and Europe, along with the heads of local business and other sectors at the University of Plymouth’s Roland Levinsky Lecture Theatre in front of a lively audience.

Last year, the first Plymouth Brexit Summit was an election pledge delivered by the newly elected Luke Pollard MP. Recently promoted to Shadow Environment Minister by Jeremy Corbyn, this year his second annual summit brought the city together under the theme ‘How prepared is Plymouth for Brexit’.

Boasting a list of high-profile speakers, Labour and Green Party South West and Gibraltar MEP’s Claire Moody and Molly Scott Cato gave their views from Europe. Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton debated Labour Member of Parliament for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw on the impact of Brexit for the South West.

Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, Stephen Kinnock, who sits on Parliament’s influential Exiting the European Union Select Committee gave the keynote speech with the view from Westminster.

This year’s summit was even more popular than last year’s with hundreds gathering to listen to the speakers and take part in the following interactive Q&A sessions on jobs and trade; community and health; fishing farming and the environment.

Luke Pollard MP said:

“The theme of this year’s summit was ‘How Prepared is Plymouth for Brexit?’ What we have learnt today from key voices across our city and wider region’s businesses, trade bodies, trade unions, industries and the Universities including Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Citybus, Devon Chamber of Commerce, Brittany Ferries and many more is that Plymouth is simply not prepared for Brexit.”

“The message from the day is clear that we are not prepared, because we are no closer to finding out what kind of Brexit we are going to get. In particular, our readiness to cope with a cliff edge, no deal Brexit is limited because of the lack of time we will have to make the necessary transition.”

“This is not in any way the fault of people in Plymouth, but of a Government that has prioritised infighting over the national interest and failed to put in place the proper measures required for a smooth and orderly transition from the European Union.”

“Labour wants a good Brexit deal and we all want Theresa May to come back to Parliament with an agreement that MPs can vote for in the Autumn. But I’m very worried that the type of Brexit we are heading towards is one that will harm rather than help our city. I’ll be briefing Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer MP on the day and sharing my thoughts with the rest of the Shadow Cabinet.”

John Napton, Brittany Ferries, MD UK said:

“Uncertainty is the enemy of every business, from haulage companies and automotive suppliers to pharmaceuticals and travel operators. Like many other companies, today we find ourselves in a very difficult position. The fact we may have no deal or a deal which is yet to be defined – alongside the consequent uncertainty about practicalities – makes it almost impossible to plan contingencies effectively or to offer any long-term certainty, particularly to businesses in the south west.”

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