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How would a no-deal Brexit directly affect you? Our in-depth Norfolk guide

PUBLISHED: 16:58 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 25 January 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Anti Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

As a number of amendments designed to rule out a no-deal Brexit are set to be tabled in parliament on Tuesday, Geraldine Scott looks at how leaving the EU without a plan in place could impact Norfolk.

Health

Norfolk hospitals depend on the European Union for more than one in 10 doctors. And data last year showed 13.6pc of frontline staff - that is doctors, nurses, and midwives - at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn were EU nationals. This compared to 8.5pc at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, and 7pc at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

While the government dropped a £65 cost for EU nationals to apply for settled status, many Norfolk employees still feel uneasy.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of trust representatives NHS Employers, warning that if numbers of nurses continued to fall then waiting times would go up dramatically.

“We would have to close capacity because we couldn’t man the beds or run the theatres. Costs would go up because we had to rely on agency staff and they are more expensive.”

Peter Passingham, regional organiser for Unison, said: “Our health staff are already up against it with all the talk of a no-deal Brexit and the farce Theresa May has created at Westminster.

“But the belated decision to drop the charges for EU nationals to stay living and working in their new homes is a rare piece of good news.

“Ministers must make sure the registration process is simple and makes European workers feel welcome. Norfolk cannot afford to lose valuable staff from its already strained health and social care sectors.”

Norfolk patients might also see shortages in their medications. While Tony Dean, chief officer at the Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), said there were a number of reasons for medicine shortages, he said Brexit could have an impact as people prepare for what might happen after March 29.

Despite being warned not to patients are stockpiling their own medicines, and pharmacists are already sending patients away with half their prescribed drugs, writing IOUs, or in extreme cases sending patients back to the GP for different brands.

Fishing

A British exit with no deal would automatically bar British boats from fishing in EU waters and EU boats from fishing off Britain.

The two main sticking issues for fishermen before Brexit were the free access to British waters allowed to continental boats, which can fish up the six mile limit, and the quotas, which limit the quantities of fish that can be caught.

So afterwards more fish will likely be landed by British boats leading to a drop in prices and a cheaper fish and chip supper.

However, there is a catch - two thirds of the fish we eat is imported and the cost of this could rise if trade deals are not worked out.

Groups have been set up to kick-start the industry in the region again.

The first meeting of the Renaissance of East Anglian Fisheries (REAF) steering group met this month. Established following the referendum, REAF has been working towards obtaining funding to allow them to conduct a thorough investigation into the potential impacts and growth of the fishing industry.

Paul Lines, chairman of Lowestoft Fish Market Alliance and REAF steering group member, said: “I came here [to Lowestoft] in 1974, to a town buoyant from fishing. Every other business had an involvement in the industry and slowly that was eroded by Europe - but we are going to get it back.”

Manufacturing

More than 61,000 people work in manufacturing in Norfolk and Suffolk. The worry is that, like in agriculture, EU workers may not continue in the industry and as UK workers generally expect to be paid more, it could become too expensive for companies to operate in the region.

Funding may also be hit - Hethel Engineering Centre is funded by the EU Regional Development Fund and losing eligibility for this money could hit manufacturing’s competitiveness.

For the man on the street this means is wages and overall costs go up, this is likely to be passed on in the final product - so whatever you are buying from cars, to boilers, the price is likely to rise.

Widening inequality

Some of the richest and poorest parts of Norfolk are separated by just one street.

For example, the difference is at its starkest along Dereham Road in Norwich. The Larkman estate area, which includes Motum Road and Beecheno Road is in the 10pc most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. Further north-west along Dereham Road, the part of Costessey around Norwich Road, is in the 20pc least deprived neighbourhoods.

The Great Yarmouth area is home to some of the most deprived parts of England, but it is not the same across the board. In two areas - where Southtown meets Great Yarmouth and near Bradwell and Brasenose Avenue - there are huge differences in deprivation.

The Brasenose Avenue area is again in the most 10pc deprived neighbourhoods in the country - but to the east, a neighbourhood in Bradwell, is in the least 20pc deprived.

But these inequalities look set to rise in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Research from consultancy firm Oliver Wyman estimates no deal will cost households £1,000 per year. Even in the most optimistic scenario families would lose £245 each.

And Hannah Worsley, from the Norwich Foodbank, said any little change in circumstances could see families needing their services.

She said their demand was “ever so slightly down on last year” but with Universal Credit coming into effect in the city late last year, they expected this would rise.

She said: “Any little cost will make a massive difference to families who are already struggling.”

Travel

If you’re planning on jetting off from Norwich Airport this summer you will need to make sure your passport has more than 15 months left until it expires.

Brits with fewer than 15 months may not make it through customs, given changes to passport validity rules in the event of a no deal Brexit on March 29.

Additionally, in a bulletin published by the Department for Transport last month, the government admitted that “some things may change” if the UK leaves the EU without a plan – though did not specify how.

The statement read: “From 29 March 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, flights should continue as today. Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption.”

However, it did advise passengers to take out insurance and check travel information before departing for the airport.

On sea and rail overseas travel the message was the same: “most passengers should not experience any difference on their journey.”

The pound

In the hours after Britain voted to quit the European Union the pound tanked.

It reached a 31-year low as panic took hold mainly due to the shock of the decision taken by the British public.

And there was further despair to come – in October 2016 a flash crash knocked another 6pc off the pound in comparison to the dollar.

When Article 50 was triggered there was even more gloom for the pound. Clearly the financial markets do not like Brexit.

But many argued that this revaluing of the pound was long overdue. And when a divorce deal was struck the pound actually rallied.

So what next? It appears a no-deal Brexit would spark another slump – this means more expensive overseas trips and the price of imported products will also increase. Basically, the cost of living would most probably go up.

But if a deal is struck the pound is likely to stay reasonably stable and could even begin a slow climb.

Food and farming

Some food prices could rise in the event of a no-deal Brexit if border friction and tariffs force up costs – but equally there have been longer-term concerns of a flood of cheap, low-quality imports from outside the EU which Norfolk farmers could struggle to compete with.

The county is a major producer of cereals, vegetables, pigs and poultry, so there could be opportunities to satisfy more of the UK’s domestic demand – if Norfolk producers can continue to be viable without the EU’s farm subsidies which will be phased out after Brexit.

While there could be shortages of imported European luxuries like cheese or wine, we have award-winning producers of both of those goods in Norfolk including Fielding Cottage’s Wensum White goat’s cheese and Winbirri Vineyard’s bacchus white wine.

But generally farming leaders in East Anglia said a no-deal departure would be “catastrophic” for the region’s food producers, with a temporary ban on exports of meat, dairy, and eggs to the EU, until the UK was listed as an approved third country.

This has caused particular concern in the pig sector, with an estimated 20pc of the national herd kept in Norfolk and Suffolk.

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