Telford less likely to be hit by hard Brexit than other UK towns and cities
Telford will be among the UK towns least-affected by a hard Brexit, a report claims – although economists today denied its suggestion that a lack of skills in the town will cushion the blow.
Researchers at the think tank Centre for Cities and the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics published the report into the effect of Brexit on local economies.
In it, the think tank claims areas with greater skills bases will also be those that are hit the hardest by withdrawing from access to the European single market.
It says Telford's economy will contract by two per cent in the event of a hard Brexit – which is actually one of the smallest drops of any town or city in the country, bettered only by Crawley, Barnsley, Burnley, Hull and Wakefield.
However, the figures are based on the idea that cities least directly affected by either a soft or hard form of Brexit are "mostly less prosperous places in the North, Midlands and Wales".
These cities, as the report calls them, often have low numbers of high-skilled firms and workers, and are both less vulnerable to the predicted post-Brexit downturn, but also less well-equipped to respond to the economic shock it brings.
But Professor Paul Forrest from the Midlands Economic Forum denied that Telford's was a low-skilled economy.
"People don't realise that places like Telford and Shropshire have some really high-tech industries," he said.
"After Solihull, Telford is the biggest concentration of advance manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing in the West Midlands, and is quite high up nationally.
"Also, Telford and Shropshire are on one of the main export routes for the UK to Ireland, our fourth or fifth largest market.
"It's not free trade agreements that are important, it's trade, and to get that going you have got to have proper investment in infrastructure."
In the event of a so-called soft Brexit, the report claims, Telford's economy would be hit to the tune of 1.1 per cent.
Shropshire, meanwhile, would see its economy contract by 0.9 per cent in the event of a soft Brexit and 1.8 per cent if the UK lost its free trade agreement with the EU.
However, Mr Forrest added that he did not agree with the terms soft and hard Brexit, adding that Britain would need to make a new trade agreement with the EU which was separate to either model.