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Brexit chaos: UKIE and TIGA have their say on the current withdrawal agreement with the EU

Reaction on the current draft deal, for what it's worth
Brexit chaos: UKIE and TIGA have their say on the current withdrawal agreement with the EU

Just yesterday UK prime minister Theresa May’s Conservative government reached a Brexit withdrawal agreement with the European Union that in theory would lead the way for the UK’s departure.

The deal has since however faced fierce criticism from MPs across the aisle and from both leave and remain supports in various parties.

A number of ministers have resigned. The chief Brexit negotiator Dominic Raab (the second following David Davis’ resignation) said he could not back the deal he himself negotiated, and also resigned from the cabinet.

A group of Conservative MPs are currently attempting to stir up a vote of no confidence in May, which if successful could end up resulting in a new Tory leadership election.

May has come out this evening to state that she intends to carry on with the current deal agreed with the EU and will attempt to push it through parliament.

Needless to say, a lot remains up in the air and the shape of Brexit could change at any moment.

Prior to this agreement, Games4EU released a report that analysed the potential consequences for the UK games industry.

TIGA's view

A lot remains on the line for the games industry. In response to May’s Brexit deal, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said: “Based on events today in Parliament, it looks like there is great uncertainty ahead and the deal in its current form may not pass a vote.”

On the withdrawal agreement currently set go head through parliament, Wilson said “stability is a priority” for the UK games industry.

“When making investment decisions, our members need a degree of certainty about the future of the economy, trade relations, and their ability to recruit skilled workers,” he said.

“We are therefore pleased that the government and the EU has reached a technical agreement that can unlock negotiations on the future relationship.”

Wilson said the trade body was happy that EU citizens’ “important contributions” to the games industry and the UK will continue, but wants assurances that the sector’s ability to recruit skilled workers from abroad will not be diminished.

He further stated that moving forward, the UK should relax restrictions on state aid (tax breaks, for example) rather than maintain them outside the EU.

“Our ability to do so would be limited by the agreement in its current form, but would not differ from the status quo,” he said.

UKIE explains key details

UKIE’s policy and public affairs manager Anderona Cole said there are “very clear and reassuring ‘in the meantime’ provisions” for workers and students in the agreement to “ensure continuity in the short to medium-term”.

“Indeed, a significant part of the draft agreement is dedicated to securing the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK - and UK citizens living in other EU nations - to provide them with much-needed security,” she said.

Cole specifically notes that the withdrawal agreement states that EU citizens and their families, and UK citizens and their families, will retain the right to live and work across the EU until the end of a transition period in December 2020.

There is one change to immigration rules that UKIE has warned games businesses to be aware of, however.

“Those who take up residence before the end of the transition period will be allowed to remain beyond transition,” said Cole.

“If they stay for five years, they will be permitted to remain permanently. But once the transition period is over, the draft agreement does allow the UK to require EU citizens who stay on to apply for a new residence document. This is something individuals and businesses should look out for further down the line.”

Other issues remain. While there is a continuation of current arrangements concerning data flows during a transition period, the agreement does not secure a data adequacy deal as yet in the long-term.

Of course, these statements from UKIE and TIGA only relate to the current withdrawal agreement. Should it fail to get pushed through parliament, the UK could be looking at changes to a deal, a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit at all.

Brexit will undoubtedly be a big topic of conversation at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019, which takes place on January 21st to 22nd.