Culture minister Hancock: Brexit negotiations will factor in needs of creative industries

Chris Hirst, UK and European CEO at Havas; Hancock; and John Kampfner, CEO of Creative Industries Federation
Chris Hirst, UK and European CEO at Havas; Hancock; and John Kampfner, CEO of Creative Industries Federation

Matt Hancock, the Conservative minister of state for digital and culture, has sought to assure members of the creative industries that the government understands their concerns as it approaches Brexit negotiations.

Speaking at a Q&A organised by the Creative Industries Federation at the Kings Cross office of Havas London, Hancock said that proponents for the creative sectors in government – including his well-regarded predecessor, Ed Vaizey – had "won the argument that creativity is at the heart of economic progress".

The department for exiting the European Union, he said, was "right by our side" in supporting the priorities of the creative industries. "The assurance I can give you is that the details of the negotiating positions take into account the creative industries," Hancock added.

A key concern for many industries, including advertising and marketing, is the ability continue to attract the best talent once the UK leaves the single market – an outcome Theresa May has been clear she plans to achieve. "We’ve got to make sure we’ve got an immigration system that in the parlance takes back control," said Hancock. But he added: "The PM’s been quite clear that we’ve got to attract the brightest and the best."

This could mean finding innovative ways of ensuring the right people are able to come into the country, he suggested. With the Conservative manifesto out tomorrow, he would not be drawn on policy specifics – but said it was important for the government and industry to collaborate on this.

"There are a number of ways we do this already," he said. "In the tech sector, we nominate Tech City to use its judgement to give out visas. There are ways you can bring judgment into the sector."

But he urged the audience to look beyond Europe, too, saying "There’s another way to think about this as well – there are opportunities in terms of the rest of the world as well."

Hancock also swerved a question on the ramifications of the UK leaving the EU without a deal: "The answer to the question is I think we’re going to get a deal. But of course we’re doing work on what 'no deal' would look like."

In a brief moment of electioneering, Hancock urged the audience to throw their support behind the Tories’ plan for "strong and stable government in the national interest" – a remark that provoked a hearty chuckle from the media-weary attendees.

Despite the frequency with which Theresa May has used the phrase "strong and stable", however, YouGov polling found that just 15% of people in the country had heard the phrase.

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