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Brexit Weekly Digest - 9 July

This week, the Irish Taoiseach urges UK ministers to “knuckle down” and find a long-term solution to the Northern Ireland protocol. The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) tells government to combat staff shortages by relaxing Brexit immigration rules. Plus, we share the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce June events running to support your business post-Brexit.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce: July Events

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) is hosting various online events in July as part of their commitment to support businesses in Greater Manchester to navigate their international trade journey:


Irish Taoiseach urges No 10 to match EU generosity over NI protocol

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Micheál Martin, has called on Downing Street to find a solution to the Northern Ireland protocol, and “reciprocate the generosity of spirit” shown by EU leaders (The Guardian).

Speaking at Government Buildings on Monday, Martin said, “There’s a window of opportunity now given the extension that has been granted to knuckle down and get these issues sorted. Where there’s a will there’s a way...It really is time to engage and make sure we get a resolution.” (Irish Times).

Following last week’s grace period extension, cabinet ministers are now expected to find a lasting solution to the protocol by 30 September. Brexit minister Lord Frost said the extension “addresses only a small part of the underlying problem”, meanwhile Boris Johnson said he hoped the “wurst is behind us” when it came to the so-called sausage war.


Staff shortages across hospitality and haulier industries

Businesses around the UK have expressed a shortage of workers as a result of Brexit and Covid-19. The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) said the government needs to relax the new immigration rules and update its “shortage occupations list” to include more jobs such as butchers, bricklayers and welders in order to address labour shortages (The Guardian).

The main industries suffering are reportedly hauliers, hospitality venues and the food and drink industry, as the pandemic restrictions caused employers to furlough staff, who are now unable to return to work due to post-Brexit immigration policies.

Around 70% of hospitality workers are said to have been EU nationals, however reports say as many as 1.3 million foreign workers left the UK since late 2019. Due to the EU Settlement Scheme, many of these returning foreign workers no longer have the right to work in the UK and must now face the new points-based immigration system. EU citizens applying for a job in a “designated shortage occupation” receive 20 points towards the 70-point minimum required to work in the UK.

Karan Bilimoria, president of the CBI said, “It’s really important to stress: workers from overseas aren’t, and shouldn’t be, our only response to labour shortages. Investing in skills here, too, is vital. It’s not an either/or choice. We must do both to ensure our firms have the access to people they need to succeed”.

Chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, said, “There is an enormous shortage of HGV drivers that we estimate at between 85,000 and 100,000. We are saying to the government that they must put HGV drivers on the shortage occupation list urgently”. In response, the government are instead announcing a temporary extension to drivers’ hours rules, “giving flexibility to drivers and operators to make slightly longer journeys”.

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