Brexit: Tony Blair warns of long-term damage to UK services sector

Brexit: Tony Blair warns of long-term damage to UK services sector

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   October 11, 2018  
 
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Brexit: Tony Blair warns of long-term damage to UK services sector

Brexit will inflict long-lasting pain on Britain’s service sector, Tony Blair has warned as a report said Theresa May’s plans will be only marginally better than no-deal on the dominant industry.

An analysis carried out for the former prime minister’s Institute for Global Change said that crashing out and trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms would see productivity 4.91% lower in 12 years’ time than if Britain remained in the customs union and single market.

Even Theresa May’s so-called Chequers deal would see GDP take a 4.13% hit, research carried out by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) suggests.

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The impact on services from the WTO scenario would be 2.1%, double that of goods exports. The Chequers plan – which would keep Britain closer to the EU for goods but allow it more freedom over services – would leave it only marginally better with a 1.9% fall in GDP, it claims.

Britain’s competitive advantage

Blair told the Financial Times that services were “the forgotten part of the Brexit landscape”, saying: “Many people may think that though the short-term impact of Brexit will be severe, we will swiftly recover. This analysis demonstrates that this is not the case.

“The pain will go on for a long time and will only be reduced by radical measures of deregulation and cost saving to improve Britain’s competitive advantage with Europe, which run in precisely the opposite direction of the policies now advocated by both main political parties.”

The report – Brexit and the UK’s Services Trade – was released ahead of a London event hosted by Reuters that Blair, a vocal critic of Brexit, is due to speak at on Thursday.

The service sector of the economy, rather than goods, will bear the main brunt of Brexit, it suggests. Britain is a “hugely successful exporter of services”, it says, and while exports to the EU fell after the eurozone crisis, they rose in value from £70 billion to £110 billion between 2008 and 2017, an increase of 57%.

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