Community meets Shadow International Trade team

Today, representatives from Community and employers in the shoe and boot industry met Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Thornberry and Shadow Minister for International Trade Bill Esterson to highlight the challenges posed to British shoe and boot businesses.

Employers in the shoe and boot industry represented were Loake Shoes, DB Wider Fit, Sanders & Sanders and Jeffrey West as well as Lucy Reece Raybould, the CEO of the British Footwear Association.

Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of the trade union Community, says:

“It was a pleasure to meet the Shadow Secretary of State and Shadow Minister for International Trade today.

I shared with them the challenges posed to the shoe and boot industry by the government’s trade policy, and the impact this could have on our members and their jobs.

The industry provides thousands of jobs across the U.K, and recent events have shown us the danger of relying on overseas supply chains. The British shoe and boot industry could thrive, but needs a trade policy to back it.

I was equally proud to be joined by a number of employers from the shoe and boot industry. Employers and unions stand together on this issue, and demand a trade policy that will protect British businesses and keep these vital jobs in the U.K.”

The Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, says:

“Our footwear industry is one of the jewels in the crown when it comes to British exports, and in this new post-Brexit era for the UK, it is vital that we do everything possible through our trade policy both to protect their interests, and promote their exports around the world.

That is why Labour’s Shadow Trade team has come to Northamptonshire to meet the British Footwear Association and some of their leading members, and hear directly from them what help they need to grow their businesses at home, expand their markets overseas, and create ever more skilled jobs across our country.

We will be taking all the points they have raised back to Westminster and demanding that the government gives our world-leading footwear manufacturers every inch of the backing they deserve to continue going from strength to strength in the coming months and years.”

Bill Esterson MP, Shadow Minister for International Trade, said:

“Britain’s footwear industry is high quality and has a proud tradition. Sadly there are significant barriers to trade like excessive paperwork, import duties and taxes which have been imposed as a result of the Conservative government’s botched Brexit deal.

Labour wants the government to fix the problems and make Brexit work.

It was a pleasure to meet shoemakers like Sanders & Sanders, Loake, Jeffrey West and DB Wider Fit along with the British Footwear Association to hear what we can do to help them overcome these challenges and not just survive but to thrive as well.

Labour in government will back businesses, unlike the Conservatives who have abdicated their responsibility to British business including our footwear industry.”

Lucy Reece Raybould, Chief Executive of the British Footwear Association, says:

“We really appreciated the visit by Labour’s Shadow Trade team, Emily Thornberry and Bill Esterson as it gave the footwear sector a fantastic opportunity to share the challenges the industry has encountered as a consequence of Brexit and Covid; and to advocate some measures which could help our businesses in the future.

Like many sectors Brexit has resulted in the dramatic reduction in sales to our of our biggest export market (89% of UK Footwear exports went to EU pre-Covid). A simplification of paperwork, an extension of GSP clearance across the UK to EU tradeline, reinstatement of the Trade Access Programme and removal of the duty on being levied on Freight costs, were all discussed during the open and frank session.

It was extremely helpful to be able to have such open dialogue with Emily and Bill. We are keen to ensure that the Labours Shadow government team understands the point of view of British Footwear Association and our members and works with us to ensure the sector thrives in the future.”

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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