MA "seriously concerned" about impact of no-deal Brexit

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 04.02.2019
Politicians urged to "take all necessary action" to avoid leaving without a deal
The UK government and politicians of all parties should take all necessary action to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the Museums Association (MA) said in a statement today.  

The association said that leaving the EU without a deal would “have a highly damaging impact on: the communities that museums serve, people who work in and with museums, and the sharing of collections, ideas and expertise across European borders”.

It said that the economic damage caused by a no-deal Brexit would “have a damaging and divisive impact on many communities that museums serve”.  

The statement continued: “The UK’s museums sector is already in a fragile financial position after a decade of austerity and could struggle with the substantial financial losses that could arise from loss of earned income, philanthropy and public funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  

“We are concerned about the prospect of further museum closures, reduced opening hours, staff reductions and a reduced public offer at precisely the time when communities need museums and the powerful role they can play in society most.” 

Border disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit would also pose significant risks to the museum sector, the statement said. 

These include a drop in European visitors, border checks undermining the UK’s status as a tourist destination, security and conservation risks to items on loan being held at the border for a long period, disruption to exhibition programmes, uncertainty about the future of export licencing regulation, and disruption to the supply chains that allow museums to remain open.  

With a large number of EU citizens employed in UK museums, the MA also said the “confusion around the EU settlement scheme is unacceptable”.  

The statement said: “No deal would heighten the concerns of our EU staff, and will make it more difficult for museum in the UK to retain EU staff with specific areas of expertise. It will also cause problems for museums staff travelling to the EU, as existing schemes that guarantee health care and other rights will cease to operate under no deal.”  

Alistair Brown, the MA’s policy officer, said: “The MA is now seriously concerned about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. The impact on museums and the communities that we serve would be severe. No-deal Brexit would have damaging short-term impacts, such as reduced food imports, uncertainty for EU citizens and increased risk to museum objects and data.  

“We are also deeply concerned about the long-term impacts of a no-deal Brexit, which would include reductions in public funding and widespread economic damage. This is the last thing that we need as the sector seeks to recover from a decade of austerity. 
"We therefore urge the government to take any action necessary to avoid a no-deal Brexit, and hope to see parliament take positive action on this issue in the very near future.”

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10.02.2019, 10:41
The actual MA statement is written precisely whereas the journal article is looser in its remarks. for instance the statement appeals for MPs to 'take all necessary action' to avoid a no-deal Brexit, while the article says 'take any action necessary' - a quite different proposition. It would have been better to have published a precis with a quote from the MA chief.

The MA has the task of lobbying Labour governments in Cardiff, Conservative governments at Westminster and SNP ones at Holyrood. I reckon it must have at least three separate lists of words to say and words not to say for each location so it can navigate through to the few minds open to persuasion.
11.02.2019, 09:30
Hi anonymous. thank you for letting us know about this discrepancy. "Any action necessary" came from a direct quote taken during an interview, hence the reason it did not precisely match the written statement. I have corrected this now for clarity.
Thanks, Geraldine
08.02.2019, 09:55
Whilst this statement is broadly "neutral" and shares some commonly held and legitimate concerns, I do hope that the MA remains a thoroughly non political organisation welcoming members of all political persuasions.