UK suppliers want 'EU pragmatism, not conflict', says leading manufacturing body

Tue 7 Mar 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Female manufacturer in a factory with equipment

UK manufacturers want a new era of pragmatism and collaboration with the EU “rather than thumping the table or issuing threats”, according to the head of trade body, Make UK

Attacking the government’s handling of the economy, Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, told its conference that the Windsor Framework should spur the UK to improve its post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

“It’s damaging our exports to the EU. We’ve seen a reduction in demand there. And we’ve seen it in reverse with a reluctance of suppliers to supply,” he told Sky News.

Strategy needed

Make UK, which represents 20,000 companies and 3 million people in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, will criticise the government’s failure to embrace a coherent industrial strategy.

It will also publish a new survey that shows UK manufacturing is accelerating re-shoring of supply chains because overseas companies “are turning their back on Britain”, reports the Times.

The report, entitled ‘No Weak Links – Building Supply Chain Resilience’ says that geopolitical upheaval and soaring costs are leading UK companies to shake up their networks of suppliers and contractors.

According to the Guardian, the survey found companies from both the EU and further afield were significantly more cautious about supplying into the UK.

Retained bill

Meanwhile, a survey of 2,000 UK business owners shows companies are also unhappy about the prospect of health and safety standards being watered down following the Retained EU Law Bill.

The poll by Unchecked UK, and supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), showed that health and safety remains a priority, with just 7% saying they are willing to accept lower standards.

Nathan Davies, head of policy at RoSPA, said: “As it stands, the health and safety of Britain’s 32 million strong workforce is under threat with the way the Retained EU Law Bill proposes to deal with vital legislation – and given that almost 80% of UK businesses are not willing to accept lower health and safety standards, it demonstrates how woefully out of touch the government really is.”

Bill’s history

Former prime minister Liz Truss introduced the Retained Law Bill to ensure that the majority of EU laws retained in the UK post-Brexit expire at the end of 2023.

However, it was criticised by green groups who claimed that hasty changes could lead to a downgrade in environmental and social standards, reports Edie.