Post-Brexit industrial strategy needs ‘flesh on the bones’, says Unite

Published:  24 August, 2017

A post-Brexit industrial strategy must include comprehensive polices on the three pillars of infrastructure, innovation and investment, according to Unite, the country’s largest union.

While welcoming the government announcement of £246 million investment in battery technology as part of the nascent industrial strategy, Unite said that business secretary Greg Clark needed to move faster in putting the flesh on the bones as to how the UK’s industrial base will flourish after Brexit.

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “While Greg Clark’s announcement on battery technology is a step in the right direction, he needs to pick up the pace on formulating concrete policies on the long-promised industrial strategy.

“As we have seen demand for electric vehicles is picking up and we need the battery technology infrastructure coming on stream as well.

“The three pillars of such of a policy to ensure the UK manufacturing sector is match fit post-Brexit are infrastructure, innovation and investment. We are still light on detail in these three vital areas.”

Unite criticisms mirror those made in March by the business select committee in the last parliament which said the industrial strategy lacked the framework for future decision-making and needed to be ‘bold, ambitious and visionary’.

Tony Burke said: “Key economic indicators affecting UK manufacturing are worrying – the trade deficit in goods widened in May; business activity in June was weak and UK productivity is back to 2007 levels and we still have major skill shortages.

“This picture makes it even more imperative that the government comes up with a comprehensive industrial strategy, rather than rely on piecemeal initiatives. Flesh needs to be put on the bones of such a strategy.

“The criteria for Brexit must be ‘Jobs First’ – that should be the benchmark on which all aspects of the Brexit negotiations are conducted. We need to defend well paid jobs, protect the supply chain and secure our industrial base - underpinned by a constant flow of well-trained apprentices.

“A White Paper is promised for later this year and should be an integral part of the government’s planning for the post-Brexit world – it can’t come soon enough for UK manufacturing and our membership.”

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