Maritime chief calls for end to no-deal Brexit ‘scaremongering’
A leading voice in Liverpool City Region’s £4bn powerhouse maritime sector is warning against “scaremongering” about a possible no-deal Brexit.
Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of Mersey Maritime which represents hundreds of local maritime businesses, says its members have the “energy and dynamism” to help the UK prosper, should it depart the EU on October 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to the President of the European Council outlining the Government’s commitment to securing a new deal with the European Union, but also making it clear that Brexit will happen regardless on October 31.
Mr Shirling-Rooke stressed that Mersey Maritime adopts a neutral position in the overall ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ debate, as it has done since the result of the referendum was known in June 2016.
But he insists we must stay positive on the UK’s prospects whether we leave the EU with a deal or not.
“The direction of travel from the Government is clear: The UK will leave the European Union on October 31, 2019, with or without a deal,” he said.
“Britain is an island nation, so the shipping and maritime sectors are among the most important industries to the UK economy – 95% of all imports and exports are moved by the sea which means, even if they don’t realise it, every single person in the country, every single day, will touch, use and eat goods that have been brought to the UK by ship.
“But our industry is much more than just shipping, it covers our port operations, maritime business services, engineering and leisure marine, too, which accounts for around £40bn of our economy and a million jobs.
“Locally, here in the Liverpool City Region, the maritime sector accounts for £4bn of our economy and employs more than 30,000 people. It is absolutely clear that getting Brexit right matters as a direct result of this.”
And emphasising the need for positivity, Mr Shirling-Rooke added: “What is really important at this sensitive time is that we avoid a lot of scaremongering taking place and people playing into the pessimistic and fear-laden agenda that we’ve seen previously.
“The message from business, and indeed the hundreds of maritime sector businesses we, as Mersey Maritime, represent, is that we must, above all, have certainty one way or another.
“That may well be the UK leaving the European Union with a fresh agreement following further talks or no deal on October 31. Either way, we need to end the uncertainty and move forward.
“My view is relatively simple: Our sector desperately wants to see a deal but if we don’t manage it we have complete faith in the energy, dynamism and expertise of our maritime industry to keep goods moving and to minimise any short term disruption there might be.”