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UK Culture Secretary claims Brexit is an 'Opportunity' for the Creative Industries

By Neil Bennett | July 11, 2016
Speaking at a visit to The Foundry, John Whittingdale MP (above) also supported the government's EBacc plans for GCSEs despite evidence that its causing fewer pupils to study fewer creative subjects.

Speaking at a visit to The Foundry, John Whittingdale MP (above) also supported the government's EBacc plans for GCSEs despite evidence that its causing fewer pupils to study fewer creative subjects.

This week, the government released the Create Together report, charting what it sees the future of the creative industries will be over the next five years. It sums up our successes - valuing it at £84.1bn and noting it employs 1 in 11 people in the UK -sets out the challenges facing the industry and lists (unfortunately rather vague) recommendations across areas such as growth, diversity and education.

One challenge not discussed by the report is that brought about by Britain leaving the EU, as it was written before the referedum. There's only a single, obviously-hastily-added mention of the referedum in the report - which you could take as either that no-one writing it really though we would vote to leave or that leaving won't have much effect on the creative industries. And from the positions taken by most of the industry in the run up to the referendum, we can assume it's the former.

The government's culture secretary John Whittingdale, who commissioned the report, thinks its the latter. Speaking to me and other journalists while touring London-based VFX software developer The Foundry as part of a creative industry tour to publicise the report, he claimed that the report wouldn't have been substantially different if it was written today rather than before the vote.

As a Vote Leave supporter, Whittingdale was keen to talk up how 'Brexit' could be a positive thing for the creatives industries.

"There are concerns [from the creative industries]," he said, "which I'm talking to the [those] industries about - and which we will seek to address when we come to have discussions with Europe about the new arrangements - but there are also huge opportunities."

"[Places like] Silicon Valley and LA and Shanghai are, in my view, where the greatest opportunities lie. We are now able - as a result of becoming an independent, self-governing country again - to be able to strike new trade arrangements right across the globe. We'll always trade with Europe, but I think there are greater opportunities as a result of leaving."

Whether we can strike deals that are as much in our favour on our own - rather than with the economic muscle of 27 countries - has been a topic of debate both before and after the referendum, with the balance of opinion from most senior economists appearing to be that we'll be at a major disadvantage. Whittingdale is adamant that being able to negotiate with countries like China on our own will make us better off.

 

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