The UK and Europe

'Brand Britain' and the sidelining of the creative industries in the Brexit negotiations

John Kampfner / Feb 2018

Image: Shutterstock


In our new Global Trade Report, nearly 80% of Creative Industries Federation members surveyed told us that they are not confident the UK will maintain its leading global reputation post-Brexit. 40% warn a ‘no deal’ outcome would harm their business’ ability to export. And 21% say a ‘no deal’ would make them consider moving part or all of their business abroad.


The UK puts on one of the greatest shows on earth - from Stormzy to Shakespeare, Paddington to Blue Planet - the UK’s creative industries are our calling card to the rest of the world, promoting both our economy and ‘Brand Britain’.


But, as Brexit negotiations continue, the creative industries are being sidelined, threatening to derail this spectacular success story. Instead, the government continues to focus on financial services and ‘traditional’ trades such as the automotive sector.


The creative industries export £35.9bn in a year - that’s £8bn more than the car industry - as well as employing 700,000 more people than the financial services. They are the source of 10% of the UK’s total service exports and 5% of the UK’s exports in goods.


Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican, said:


“The creative industries are a vital part of the UK economy and should be a central consideration in any post-Brexit trade agreements. These industries not only contribute a huge amount to our national prosperity but also play a leading role in maintaining and enhancing the UK’s international reputation.


“The Barbican regularly exports its exhibitions and theatre productions internationally and, with so much of our trade involving other European nations, ensuring a continued positive trading relationship with the EU will be essential to our future success.”


Creative industry exports include everything from books to architecture, video games to advertising, art to music. And they enrich our lives both culturally and economically.


The reason for such a stark warning to the UK government is that 45% of UK creative industries service exports go to the EU.


A ‘no deal’ scenario would mean high costs for touring theatres or shooting films, broadcasters would have to restructure their operations at significant cost to continue to export across the EU, and the intellectual property of all creatives, from designers to musicians, would be at risk.


Looking ahead, we are seeing impressive growth in Asia and developing markets as economic growth and evolving consumer preferences open doors to new audiences. But these markets are also increasingly competitive as they begin to understand the benefits of the creative industries.


Theresa May has told City of London bosses she will “put financial services at the heart of a new trade deal with the EU” and has invited car industry executives to a high-level meeting to discuss their concerns.


The economy has changed since the 1980s, but it sometimes feels like the government’s industrial priorities have barely shifted.


Now, the UK’s creative voice needs to be heard. Before the show is over.


John Kampfner

John Kampfner

February 2018

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