To protect others, we’re all trying to work from home where we can. In some jobs this is relatively straightforward. In others, like transport or factory work, it’s impossible.
As we navigate through this health crisis, it’s vital we understand which industries, which towns and which people will be worst hit. And we must work together to ensure they get the help they need.
Britain’s manufacturers are not only turning their expertise to making ventilators and virus testing kits for our NHS, they are also keeping workers employed and able to put food on their tables. But can they keep themselves open if they have to battle on two fronts?
British manufacturers use world-class, hugely efficient supply chains to make sure parts and raw materials arrive ’just in time’ to be used. What if, at the same time as dealing with Coronavirus, trade across borders is made harder and these supply chains become unreliable or impossible?
That’s what would happen if the UK doesn’t manage to make a trade deal with our closest neighbouring countries before the end of this year. This means manufacturing jobs are vulnerable too, and the towns which rely on their manufacturing industry, be it steel in Stocksbridge or cars in Darlington, are vulnerable as well.
That’s why I believe we must extend the transition period. Firms like Hitachi, Land Rover and Jaguar have already had to cut jobs in the wake of industry uncertainty. We need to ensure comprehensive and seamless trade with our closest neighbours in Europe.
While some industries and some areas may weather the pandemic storm, we must be aware of those who will be hit hardest by international uncertainty. If now is not the time to work together as a nation, when is?
I believe that the UK will rise to the challenges of the coming year. But to do this, we must work together, and make the most of our links with our neighbours.
Let’s extend the transition period, and protect our industries.