The view from here…
The days following the referendum saw a year’s
political action condensed into a week, with
resignations and appointments happening in quick
succession. The newly appointed Prime Minister, Theresa
May, who emerged from the wreckage of the
Shakespearian power struggle that was Gove vs Johnson,
was admirably quick to take control. Producing a surprise
of her own with the selection of the flamboyant Boris
Johnson as Foreign Secretary, she resurrected a career that
had seemed dead only 24 hours earlier.
This has all left the population in various states of shock,
surprise or elation depending on how their votes had
been cast, and still coming to terms with the rapidly
changing political landscape. In another sign of a decisive
personality came Theresa May’s announcement that
“Brexit means Brexit” (although with a subtext of
“….whatever that may mean…”). The UK had been cast
adrift from its place in Europe and was now to seek a new
direction in the world.
High on Theresa May’s to-do list was the creation of the
new Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU). In what has
been referred to as the biggest task since the end of the
Empire, several decades of work now needs to be
unpicked in just two years. Forty staff from the Foreign
Office will form the core of this department and they are
still in the process of recruiting. At the time of writing,
DExEU was looking for a building to call home. Although
the High Court has been told that article 50 of the Lisbon
treaty initiating the UK’s departure from the EU won’t
happen before the end of 2016, the clock is ticking and
the pressure is on.
The referendum happened in a turbulent year, with
multiple terrorist attacks rocking Europe’s stability,
providing a difficult backdrop for post Brexit analysis.
Tourism Alliance research shows that central London
tourist bookings are down 10-15% on last year, with
overseas visitors preferring to visit places just outside of
London such as Windsor. School groups from both
overseas and the UK are understandably avoiding central
London, adding to the dip in the figures.
At the same time, the tourism industry is heavily
dependent on EU migrant workers with anecdotal
evidence of a holiday park almost entirely staffed with
Eastern Europeans who, having worked well there for
several years, are now (post-brexit) considering leaving.
90% of Café Rouge and 92% of Pret a Manger is staffed by
EU migrant workers, for whom the future is uncertain.
Outside London however, there is a more optimistic
outlook particularly in the ‘Brexit areas’. A recent Visit
England business confidence survey showed that out of
500 accommodation providers across the UK, more than
half anticipate an increase in visitors following the EU
referendum, particularly from the domestic market;
contributed to in part by the increased popularity of the
staycation and the falling pound.
With the transition of power at Number 10, here at
bacta we have been concentrating on forming new
relationships in our continued endeavours to push for the
publication of the Triennial Review of Gaming Machine
Stake and Prize Limits. Tracey Crouch retained her position
as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport
Tourism and Heritage at the DCMS and the newly
appointed Secretary of State, Karen Bradley is, by all
accounts, ready to listen. Meetings with politicians are
currently being organised at the rapidly approaching
Autumn Party Conferences.
These are early days and there is a huge amount to deal
with – very much a case of ‘watch this space…