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Events industry entering land of unknown, says MP James Heappey

All Party Parliamentary Group for Events representative promises to fight for free movement for visitors to UK
24/06/2016

Pictured: MP James Heappey

The industry is facing "significant uncertainty" as the UK renegotiates its relationship with the European Union following its Brexit vote, MP James Heappey has warned.


The MP representative for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events and Remain campaigner said while nothing would change immediately, there was a lot more doubt surrounding events planned for two years' time.


"Here is the big problem; we're entering a land of the complete unknown. My reason for backing Remain was, as far as I can see, the economic plan for leaving was a blank piece of paper and we'd have to start putting things on it," he said.


"I don't know if I can say much to agencies and firms right now about what it is that we are going to be trying to achieve around our renegotiations over the next two years, other then to reassure them that what we should be seeking to do is to make it easier for people to come to the country, not harder.


"Today, next week, next year, nothing will have changed. We will continue to operate as a member of the EU with the access to a free market. (But) for those people who are working on visitor events two years down the track, clearly there is an inherent (uncertainty) in the decision last night that will take some time to resolve and there's no doubt for an industry like the events industry, that does have a very significant amount of European business, there is an uncertainty whilst we renegotiate that."


Heappey said his priority would be making sure the UK remained as fuss-free as possible for incoming visitors, adding that staff migrant labour "shouldn't be an issue".


"I don't believe anyone is advocating a block on immigration; nobody is suggesting that. It may be that we are more willing to accept migrant labour from further afield or be more discerning about what sort of skills we allow in like Australia," he said.


"My key concern is the case of free movement. The borderless EU has made it very, very easy to host events when people can travel freely into the UK, and the UK therefore has been equally convenient to host as it has been in France or Germany. In two years time that won't be the case. Given immigration is a key theme I will make the case as strongly as I can that there's a real difference between migration control and facilitating the visitor economy."


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