Leaving the EU: Tourism and the Creative Industries — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:57 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 2:57 pm, 17th April 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for mentioning that point, and I will come on to discuss it, because I chair the all-party parliamentary group on intellectual property and I have a few choice words to say about where we are going with all this.

I want to say first, however, because it is important, that we are in the top three of all recognised sectors worldwide when it comes to the creative economy and creative industries. The hon. Lady is right that that has been achieved because we have a huge reservoir of talent and ability in these islands. However, we are not unique in that respect; the UK is not exceptional in having large swathes of talent. Lots of other nations have that, too, but we have harnessed that creativity, to ensure that it is supported, developed and allowed to thrive. We have created the conditions that have allowed creative endeavour to succeed.

As the hon. Lady suggested, one of those conditions is the environment that we have created. We have intellectual property arrangements, ensuring that copyright is protected and that our artists are able to secure a return for their endeavour, their ingenuity and their ability. We have created an effective business and support environment that has allowed our artists to develop and flourish. We have innovated, we have developed international relationships, we have collaborated and we have recognised and valued the international dimension of creativity. Brexit? It could make you cry, with the damage that it will do to all that.

The creative sector is very concerned about the impact of Brexit on our creative economy. The Creative Industries Federation has found that 96%—I repeat, 96%—of its members believe that Brexit is a fundamentally bad thing that will critically impact on the sector.

I listened to the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech. There were lots and lots of things that I deplored in what she said, but the thing that sickened me most was the casual way she dismissed the digital single market, as if it was some sort of Brussels wheeze that got in the way of our national liberation. The digital single market is all about harmonising arrangements across the European Union. As the largest creator of content in the whole of the European Union, we designed the digital single market for goodness’ sake, and now we are joyfully leaving it. We will now be a third party when it comes to European arrangements, which is a profoundly bad position to be in, and we will not be looked at favourably by a European Union that we have just so recently rejected.

Already, European nations are rubbing their hands and carving up all the institutions that they will acquire. The French are at it; the Germans are at it; and the eastern Europeans are practically gleeful about the opportunities that their content markets will now have, because we are leaving the European Union.

However, the biggest issue and the biggest threat that this ridiculous, chaotic Brexit will pose for our creative industries is the ending of freedom of movement. The creative industries probably need freedom of movement more than any other sector within our economy; the Department for Exiting the European Union itself found that, when it looked at all this sort of thing. For investment, harmonisation and collaboration in developing markets, we require the type of arrangements that exist within the EU, and to casually walk away as if the digital single market did not matter a fig is something that we should be appallingly ashamed at.

I believe there is only one thing we can do. We will never get back to the optimal arrangements of the European Union, of the digital single market, of harmonising across Europe and creating the conditions in which our creative industries can develop, thrive and grow markets. But what we have to do, Minister, is to stay as closely aligned as possible to the European Union. Even though we are now a third party, and it is likely that we will be rejected and treated poorly, the Minister must ensure that whatever the EU does in the digital single market is replicated within the United Kingdom, because if he does not, we will be in some serious trouble.

The Minister must also ensure that the creative industries and intellectual property are at the heart of any bilateral trade arrangement that is put in place. As I said, I chair the all-party parliamentary group on intellectual property and I have seen the report from the Alliance for Intellectual Property that warns, once again, of a “cliff-edge” Brexit and the impact that it would have on IP rights, reciprocity and all the things to do with our audio-visual sector, with portability and all the good things that we have been able to secure. We will lose all that. It is not going to come back, but we have to make sure that we are properly aligned.