The creative industries are vital to the UK economy and they are likely to be even more pivotal after we leave the EU. So the fact Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is not a member of the Cabinet's main Brexit committee is deeply worrying. Over 1.9 million jobs in the UK are directly dependent on the creative industries and much of our cultural clout depends on them. So it's vital they have a voice at the top table.
I asked the Secretary of State why she isn't on the Brexit committee in Parliament this week - you can watch a short video clip here:
I've since written to the Prime Minister, outlining my concerns. Here's what my letter said:
I am writing to you to raise concerns about the membership of the cabinet committee on European Union Exit and Trade Committee and in particular to ask why about the absence of the Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport from that committee.
As you know, the committee has 15 members and 15 Government departments are represented on it. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is member and so too is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for International trade.
Given the pivotal role the creative industries play in our economy, and the 1.9 million jobs that depend on them, I hope you will agree with me that the fact the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport is not a member of the committee is a matter of concern.
The UK exercises considerable commercial and cultural clout in the fields of music, TV production, film, video games, art, design, publishing, dance, architecture, drama and literature.
In the post-Brexit world the creative industries are likely to prove vital to the UK’s economic performance as we seek to forge new partnerships overseas and access to new markets around the world. They already generate 84 billion a year for the UK economy and jobs in the Creatives Industries have increased three times faster than the UK average.
They act as a calling card around the world and open doors that might otherwise remain closed. Given that this is the case I was surprised to discover the creative industries are not represented at the committee that will play such an important role in the negotiations about the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and help to shape the terms of the new relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union and the UK’s policy on international trade.
I would be grateful if you could clarify if the failure to appoint the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sports is an oversight. If it is not an oversight, could you please explain to me on what grounds she was excluded from the committee?
Could you also tell me how many times the committee has met, when it next meets and how many meetings are expected to take place between now and the end of the year.
If the sub-committee has met, could you tell me if it discussed the role the creative industries in the post-Brexit world? Given that the Culture Secretary is not represented on it, could you tell me who on the committee is responsible for discussing these matters?
Could you also explain to me why it is that the Culture Secretary is a member of the European Union Exit and Trade (European Affairs) sub-committee but does not sit on the European Union Exit and Trade Committee?
I hope you will agree with me that it is if of paramount importance that the views of the creative industries are represented at this Cabinet committee given their important role in the UK economy.
As you are no doubt aware, your government recently said it had not made an assessment of the cost to the economy of business being unable to access the Digital Single Market after Brexit.
Given that the UK digital sector currently is worth £118 billion a year and 43% of UK digital exports are made to the EU, can I also ask you to confirm that this is placed on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting of the European Union Exit and Trade Committee.
I am copying this letter to the Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport and the Cabinet Secretary.
Tom Watson MP
I look forward to receiving the Prime Minister's response. If you're as concerned as me about this issue, please like and share this post.