Jeremy Corbyn in Stevenage to speak to small businesses about no-deal Brexit
PUBLISHED: 13:47 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 August 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been in Stevenage today to speak to small businesses and start-ups about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have - claiming the profile of some of the firms in the town would mean the effect would be "huge".
The Islington North MP is at the Stevenage Business and Technology Centre in Bessemer Drive, where he has been speaking to business owners who are based there.
On his arrival this morning, Mr Corbyn was greeted by Stevenage Borough Council's Labour leader Sharon Taylor and the party's prospective parliamentary candidate Jill Borcherds - who together took a tour of the centre, speaking to various small and start-up businesses along the way.
Following this, the three gathered for an open meeting with a number of owners based in the BTC, and answered questions on Brexit, the climate emergency, education and business.
The first stop made on the tour was to the office of Lawrence Dean Recruitment Group, where Mr Corbyn spoke to director Kelly Notley about the company, before heading to the base of LED screen and signage business Visual Technology.
A number of start-up businesses based in the BTC's 'Incubator' space welcomed Mr Corbyn and spoke to him about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have for them.
The Incubator homes many early stage start-ups, including Dignity and Purity Natural Beauty - both which are owned by Chloe Prior.
Dignity provides specialist bathroom and hygiene products for people with a range of health conditions, illnesses and disabilities, and Purity specialises in natural and organic skin care products.
Chloe told Mr Corbyn: "Being a smaller business, it's not easy to change your production overnight. It would take a lot of planning and resources."
Chloe sells her products to customers across Europe and further afield, and is unsure on how Brexit will impact her business.
"At the moment it's easy for me to sell my products in any country and now I don't know what's going to happen, there's all this uncertainty," she said.
Mr Corbyn, Ms Taylor and Ms Borcherds gathered in a meeting room with business owners following the tour to answer questions and discuss current issues with Brexit, the climate emergency and more.
When asked about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Corbyn told those in the meeting: "All of you trade with Europe in various ways and rely on European-based workers - and as far as I'm concerned the end of a freedom of movement is ludicrous and dangerous.
"It would be like the Windrush scandal on stilts. We will do everything we can do stop a no-deal Brexit.
"We will do everything we can to prevent a no-deal Brexit via motions of no confidence in government and voting for and against specific motions. I've already called for parliament to be recalled."
Speaking to the Comet, Mr Corbyn said: "I had a good discussion with Sharon and Jill about the economic and industrial development in Stevenage. This business start-up centre is very impressive, with a lot of very creative and innovative people doing a lot of good.
"In the very lengthly round-up we spoke quite a lot about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, a lot about education and training and, interestingly, a long discussion about environmental sustainability.
"I'm very pleased that the council is hosting a big round table on September 11 about environmental sustainability in Stevenage, well done them."
Mr Corbyn has previously said that Labour would back remain if there was a referendum on a no-deal Brexit.
When asked what he would say to the 59.2 per cent of Stevenage voters who backed the Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, he said: "I would say to them think very carefully about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.
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"No-deal Brexit would mean a hard border returning in Ireland, it would also mean problems over medicine supplies - because a great deal of NHS medicines come from the European Union and it would mean huge problems for food processing.
"Here in Stevenage you've got a lot of very high tech and aerospace-based companies and jobs. These companies trade and exchange goods and services with Europe, and have engineers who go to France and Germany and other places day to day to deal with any maintenance problems that have to be addressed. All of that would be disrupted.
"The effect on the Stevenage economy would be huge."