By Daniel Wood
Preparations for Brexit are fastly progressing in Kirklees, even though there have not been any specific details release in terms of how the UK leaves the EU.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s Brexit deadline will be January 31.
This means that preparing for life outside the EU will be a task for local authorities across the nation, as they look to sort out their specific areas.
Whilst preparations are ongoing, one senior councillor has cautioned that there is a “fog” around the detail of Brexit that will only clear in the months ahead.
Brexit Tactical Group
Kirklees Council set up a Brexit Tactical Group “to fulfil its role of ensuring an appropriate level of preparedness for the withdrawal, encompassing likely scenarios following the UK’s exit from the EU with a particular focus on supporting vulnerable people.”
A report from the tactical group anticipates the various possible impacts of Brexit on the Kirklees economy warns that; “there is no way to judge the true impact on any given sector” as the extent of regulatory changes or levels of agreed tariffs are yet to be determined.
The report shows around 13,000 EU workers in Kirkless as of December 2019 with approximately a third having applied for settles status.
Many workers are in low skilled jobs with 47% in elementary process plant occupations such as packing.
It identified 79 companies in Kirklees that are subsidiaries of EU-based parent companies with 5 groups accounting for more than 30,000 employees and a turnover of £475m.
There are 19 businesses in the area that have EU-based subsidiaries, all of which are subsidiaries of larger parent companies.
The report said: “The latter group presents a particular risk of suffering restricting for logistical or tax reasons, which could place jobs at risk.”
Up to 10% of social care workers in Kirklees are EU citizens. There is a heavy concern that earnings after Brexit will be “far below” the potential minimum threshold.
Town Hall Meetings
Politicians argued over the meaning of the January 31 deadline in the council chamber at Huddersfield Town Hall.
“We aren’t really leaving on the 31st of January,” said committee chair Cllr Andrew Cooper (Green, Newsome). “The real Brexit is at the end of the year.”
In response, Cllr John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) said: “Politically we are leaving on the 31st.”
Cllr Will Simpson (Lab, Denby Dale) said he agreed with Cllr Taylor but added: “If I can steal and distort Peter Mandelson’s phrase for a minute – he said ‘We’re all Thatcherites now’ – we’re all brexiteers now, whether we like it or not.”
The council’s political lead on Brexit, Cllr Graham Turner, said officers would be working on the authority’s plan throughout the coming year.
“It’s all a bit foggy but the fog will start to clear and I can ensure you that we will work to maximise the opportunities for us a council and the residents of Kirklees.”