"Keep calm and carry on" - Suffolk County Council moves to ease fears of no-deal Brexit on county
PUBLISHED: 16:35 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:35 19 October 2018
People have been urged to "keep calm and carry on" by Suffolk's Conservatives amid fears the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on the county's business and economy.
A motion was put forward by the Labour group at Thursday’s full council meeting calling for the council to pledge its support to Suffolk firms and write to Westminster outlining its concerns a no-deal Brexit could have.
But the motion did not get enough votes, with Conservatives saying it was too early to pre-judge the outcome.
Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “I feel it would be foolish to pre-judge the outcome of a Brexit decision – we know it’s very fast-moving.”
He added: “It’s also about huge opportunities and we as a council must take all of this on board.
“We must create an environment that allows businesses to flourish in whatever landscape exists past March 2019.”
Among some of the concerns raised during the debate were fears there could be increased border checks at the Port of Felixstowe, access to medicines imported from Europe and the reliance of Suffolk’s agricultural industry on seasonal workers – many of whom come from the continent.
Labour councillor Jack Abbott said: “The damage a no-deal Brexit will do to our county and our country is too great – it will harm every sector of our economy and it will cut the job prospects of all Suffolk residents.
“In short, no-deal will leave us all considerably worse off now and in the future.
“On the most important issue faced by this country in a generation, it is critical that we reach out across the political divide, show some leadership, stand up for Suffolk and tell the government that we cannot bear the cost of a no-deal Brexit.”
The council recently announced it had struck a deal with the Dutch province of Drenthe, alongside Norfolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which pledges to boost trade between the two.
The Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group comprising all leaders and chief executives of Suffolk’s councils are also exploring the issue.
Conservative councillor Mark Bee added: “We don’t need to write to the prime minister, we are getting on with it. We need to keep calm and carry on.”