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News - 24 June 2016

UK Votes for EU Independence - but not Brighton & Hove

In a historic vote, the UK has decided to leave the EU and go it alone. Only a handful of local authorities voted to remain, Brighton & Hove was one of them.

On Friday 24th June 2016, the UK awoke to the news that the result of the EU referendum had been to leave the trading bloc in favour of retaining full sovereignty.  The turnout was a massive 72.2% of the electorate, not seen since the early nineties, and the shock waves of the result are still being unpicked throughout the EU and beyond.

In Brighton & Hove, bucking the national trend, 68.6% of voters wished the stay in the EU.  Mirroring the votes from London, the whole of Scotland and most of Northern Ireland, the aspirations of the city's voters failed to materialise; but what does it all mean for this trailblazing city by the sea?

Economic Partnership Comment:

No-one knows what the weeks, months and years ahead will hold, not least for Brighton & Hove but the UK as a whole. Our local economy is built on tourism, the financial and business sector and the Creative Digital and Information Technology Sectors (CDIT).  Our attractiveness as a retail destination is also without doubt and our reliance on the public sector is still significant even after the era of austerity.

As the pound nosedives and millions are wiped off the FTSE100, the city's Financial and Business Sector will be feeling the heat. Employing over 13,000 people and accounting for over 9% of the total workforce, the impact of decisions that are made in the city of London over the coming months will undoubtedly be felt here in Brighton & Hove. 

With the sudden corrections in the financial markets and nervousness with the banking sector generally, lending and credit may become harder to access.

The Bank of England has already committed to injecting billions in to the system via quantitative easing, but if another recession hits, retail can expect to take yet another battering.

Brighton & Hove has fared well in terms of retail vacancies of late, but those businesses in particular need people on the street with cash in the purses and wallets in order to survive. Spending cash in the shops is often the first things to go when households start pulling in their belts.

Arguably, the city was built by the tourism sector, and it’s this sector which has been our bread and butter since Brighthelmstone welcomed one famously feckless and financially flagrant King in 1787. 

It is worth around a fifth of our total economy, employing some 16,000 people, many of whom are from the EU.

Their contribution to the local economy cannot be underestimated, and help to service the 11million or so visitors that Brighton & Hove now welcomes annually. How travel freedoms and visas are negotiated will undoubtedly have repercussions for our seaside city.

Brighton’s successful CDIT story has also been much documented and the lion’s share of referrals from UKTI (The Government Department for foreign trade and investment) are from mainland European businesses wishing to invest here.

In fact, Brighton & Hove is only behind London now in the list of places in the UK for foreign direct investment in the CDIT sector.

In the last year alone, UKTI reported successes in excess of £65m worth of investment that would have otherwise gone elsewhere in the UK. Where future investment will go now is anyone’s guess.

Of course, whatever happens in the future, the UK Economy and the Brighton & Hove Economy are both strong. We have the ingredients to make business work here and have proved ourselves as a sound bedrock for investment.

The Economic Partnership is committed to working with our local business community, our local and national politicians and all our local partners to be part of the solution to this unprecedented new epoch.



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