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Nick Clegg: Clothing prices set to rise as a result of May’s Brexit

by Steve Beasant on 7 June, 2017

Clothing prices are set to rise as a result of Theresa May’s choice to pursue an extreme Brexit, the Liberal Democrats warned today.

The UK fashion and textiles industry employs over 556,000 people in the UK, including manufacturers, wholesales and retailers. British manufacturers create products worth £9 billion a year, from Savile Row suits to highly technical fabrics used in sectors such as aerospace, the medical and the military.

The slump in the value of sterling has pushed up import prices of yarn and thread by 12% since the EU referendum, while finished clothes are around 15% more expensive to import than they were last summer. This is putting a squeeze on the UK fashion industry and on clothing retailers, with costs expected to be passed on to consumers in the coming months.

Failure to agree a deal on Brexit will see the automatic imposition of tariffs on UK clothing exports to the continent: fibre 2%, yarn up to 4%, fabric 8% and clothing as high as 12%. This will make British brands significantly less competitive.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Europe Spokesman Nick Clegg said:

“Theresa May’s extreme Brexit will burn a hole in your pocket.

“The fashion and textiles industry, like so many parts of our economy, finds itself unable to plan for the future as a result of Theresa May’s self-destructive decision to leave the single market.

“Clothing manufacturers up and down the country are already struggling to absorb cost increases due to the weaker pound – a direct consequence of the EU referendum.

“It is only a matter of time before these increased costs are passed on to consumers. The Brexit squeeze on this sector of our economy is going to felt on everything from suits to duvets.

“The Conservatives have done nothing to address the fears of many exporters that they are about to be hit by customs tariffs thanks to Theresa May’s choice to pull us out of the customs union.

“Nor have they offered any assurances to thousands of EU workers, whose talent and creativity underpins the thriving fashion industry.

“The Liberal Democrats will fight to stay in the single market and give people the final say, with a chance to reject a disastrous Brexit deal and stay in the EU.”

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