Eden could be area least affected by Brexit, claims think tank

Date: Monday 6th November 2017

EDEN is the area of Britain set to be least affected by Brexit, a think tank has concluded.

The claim comes from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, which says a broad north-south pattern is visible in its figures, especially in terms of the concentration of areas most negatively affected.

In a table of areas most and least affected, Eden is at the top of the list of areas likely to be least badly hit, with economic output set to fall by just 0.7 per cent. under a soft Brexit deal and by 1.3 per cent. if there is a hard Brexit.

Areas that predominantly voted to remain in the European Union are due to suffer more economic pain from Brexit than those which voted to leave. This is in contrast to previous reports suggesting the majority of towns and cities which voted for Brexit in the North, Midlands and Wales are likely to experience more severe consequences than “remain” areas.

With the exception of Aberdeen, the report suggests the areas that will feel the worst economic effects of Britain’s departure from the EU are in London and the South East. The think tank says this is because such areas are very reliant on the services sector, especially financial services and business activities such as accounting and legal work. The institute also concluded that, with an adjustment for inflation, the average household is £600 poorer than it would have been had there not been the sharp fall in the pound after the Brexit vote.

Following Eden in the top five least affected areas are Moray, North Lincolnshire, Corby and Anglesey. The top five most affected are the City of London, Aberdeen, Tower Hamlets, Watford and Mole Valley.

The report comes against a backdrop of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce claiming some Lake District hoteliers fear they could be forced to close if restrictions on migrant labour are imposed after Brexit.

In a survey, the chamber asked business operators if they employed EU migrants and what the impact would be if their numbers were restricted after Brexit. The survey also asked if job applications from migrants had declined since the EU referendum and if any migrant staff had left to return home.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “At one end of the spectrum we had businesses telling us they didn’t employ any migrant workers and that restrictions would have no effect. At the other, there were businesses concerned they would be unable to function and might close if the supply of migrants dried up.

“We estimate there are at least 10,000 EU migrants working in Cumbria, and the bulk of them are in the hospitality and food processing industries.

“These two sectors have the most at stake. In the Lake District, we found hotels where 50 per cent. of the workforce are migrants. But it isn’t only businesses that employ migrant workers that expect to be hit by restrictions. Particularly in Eden and South Lakeland, where there is near full employment, any reduction in the pool of available labour would exacerbate recruitment difficulties for all businesses.”

Hoteliers in the Lake District were most concerned about restrictions following the leak of a draft Home Office paper suggesting Britain would end free movement and bring in a strict immigration policy with a minimum income threshold for would-be migrants from the EU.

One hotel described it as a “threat to the existence of the business”, while another said: “We have to make it crystal clear to the Government that EU migrants are hugely essential to the Cumbrian economy and without them businesses will close.”

Many farming and food processing businesses in the county also rely on migrant workers, and fears have been expressed that a number of these could become unprofitable after Brexit.