Cracks with Brexit start to appear as industries grow restless

Farmers frustrated with live farm animal exports standstill

Livestock and live shellfish exports from the UK to mainland Europe are at a standstill as producers struggle with post-Brexit transport conditions. In 2019, a combined 31,000 sheep, goats and cattle were exported to the EU mainland from the UK. However, since 01 January, none of these live farm animals have left the UK for the EU.

Scotland’s farming bodies have sent a clear message to the UK Government that they must fully consider the impact a ban could have on UK farm businesses – outlining the need for a single standard to allow for seamless cross-border journeys. DEFRA’s consultation on the ‘Welfare of Animals at Transport’ which seeks to strengthen rules regarding animal welfare in transit post-Brexit, has been extended to Thursday 25 February, so presents an opportunity for interested stakeholders to have their say. The Scottish government’s own consultation on restricting the live animal export trade is due to conclude on 26 February.


UK fishermen indefinitely banned from importing EU shellfish

The UK’s fishermen have been warned they face a permanent ban of selling some types of shellfish to the EU as they no longer conform to the bloc’s safety standards. Exporters fear their industry could collapse as the EU moves to block thousands of tonnes of cockles, mussels, clams, scallops and oysters from being shipped from the UK to the continent. PoliticsHome reported that a European Commission official has written to the British shellfish industry body saying the exports of shellfish is “strictly forbidden”. It is essential that fishermen and exporters are offered clarity by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who have advised shellfish traders that they would be able to resume live shellfish exports to the EU in late April.


Red tape a sticking point for the fashion industry

Earlier this week more than 400 leading figures in the fashion industry sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding urgent action on red tape and travel restrictions thrown up by the post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU. The letter outlined that Brexit was suffocating the complex international supply chains and relationships that underpin the workings of the fashion industry. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. The music industry also raised similar concerns recently about the need for work permits for each EU member state and paperwork for moving products and equipment, and have called for urgent action from the government. In such a fast paced and rapidly changing industry such as fashion, and one which is estimated to contribute 1.6 per cent of GDP to the UK economy, it will be important for the Cabinet Office to understand the challenges facing designers and businesses and support them where possible.


Money talks but access to financial services is currently muted

The UK’s financial services sector has urged Brussels to grant them wide-ranging post-Brexit access to EU financial markets as talks between the UK and EU continue.However, the only way the UK’s financial hub can maintain its pre-Brexit access to the EU market is if Brussels grants regulatory equivalence. The problem is that officials believe the UK is destined to diverge from its financial services regulations and has therefore withheld the designation.

Representatives from the UK’s Treasury and the European Commission have been in discussions about the future of financial services following the end of the transition period, in a bid to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the matter by March. Nonetheless, time is running out and senior figures such as Lord Jonathan Hill, the UK’s former financial services commissioner to the EU, have confidently claimed the EU will not grant regulatory equivalence to British financial firms.

The failure to grant equivalence has forced many businesses to either stop serving clients in the EU or set up new offices in the bloc that could handle their business. The challenge now is the longer the equivalence question hangs above the UK financial sector, the greater the risk of jobs and assets leaving the City.


UK is Covid vaccine ‘speedboat’ compared with EU ‘tanker’

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said that a country on its own such as the UK can act more like a “speedboat” than the EU “tanker” in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. In the UK, approximately one in five adults have now had the first dose of the vaccine, but efforts across the European Union have been markedly slower. It is estimated that the EU has administered vaccines to 3.22 per cent of its adult population. The EU has been under pressure over the slower delivery of the vaccine, especially after the recent row with drug maker AstraZeneca which said that the number of doses it could supply to the EU would be lower than first thought, due to manufacturing challenges. However despite the pressure placed on von der Leyen, the Commission leader has defended the EU’s decision to work together across the bloc on their vaccination programme.


The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients across the Member States of the European Union and the United Kingdom. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at