EEF, The Manufacturers' Organisation, hosted the Making Brexit Work – Preparing Manufacturers for Brexit conference in Bristol. The event brought together 100 West of England business and manufacturing leaders and Westminster policy experts to identify key concerns and opportunities presented by Brexit.
The event was the third in the EEF Brexit roadshow series. It was set up in response to EEF members' calls for greater clarity on the implications of Brexit on their day-to-day operations. EEF is playing a leading role in helping business prepare for this major change; as well as the roadshow programme, EEF has recently launched an online Brexit toolkit providing a detailed and easy to use resource for businesses who import and export goods, whatever sector they work in.
A keynote speech was provided by Baroness Neville-Rolfe. Neville-Rolfe is a member of the House of Lords EU Select Committee, and previously served as a Minister in the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Attendees also heard from senior government Brexit officials, specialist trade and migration advisers and West of England MEP, Ashley Fox.
Underlining the event's importance, the Department for Exiting the EU's recent economic analysis found that the South West could be badly affected by Brexit. The analysis suggests that both no deal and free trade deal scenarios could lead to 5% and 2% reduction's in the region's economy respectively.
Symbolically, the conference was held at Aerospace Bristol, the birthplace of Concorde, and emblematic of the UK's innovation and technological achievements in aeronautics in the region and manufacturing more broadly.
Hilary Douglas, Head of Corporate Affairs, EEF, said: "Manufacturers remain desperate for clarity as we count down towards Brexit, and the high levels of interest in today's event underlines this. Getting Brexit right for manufacturers is not only critical for the sector, but also for the UK economy."
Baroness Neville Rolfe, keynote speaker, said: "Brexit continues to cause uncertainty for manufacturers across this region, which has a rich history of industrial innovation. As negotiations pick up pace, it is crucial that manufacturers ensure they are Brexit-prepared to ensure they are best positioned to take this heritage into the future."