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'We must take wealth and jobs to Europe if no Brexit deal is reached', Barton Marine tells Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield on BBC Panorama

A Whitstable boat firm says it will be forced to "take wealth and jobs abroad" if no Brexit deal is reached.

On BBC One's Panorama last night, broadcaster Adrian Chiles visited Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield to discuss Britain's departure from the European Union as part of the programme's 'Brexit: Who's in Charge?' series.

The episode examines the way in which back-bench MPs are dealing with the Brexit process, and how they are reconciling what is happening in Parliament with how their constituents voted two and a half years ago.

Rosie Duffield with Panorama presenter Adrian Chiles at Whitstable station. Picture: BBC
Rosie Duffield with Panorama presenter Adrian Chiles at Whitstable station. Picture: BBC

After heading up north to see Andrew Percy - the Tory MP of Brigg and Goole who recently voted in favour of Theresa May's Brexit deal - Mr Chiles visits Whitstable to meet with Labour MP Rosie Duffield - a staunch Remainer who was among hundreds of MPs to reject the deal on January 15.

In June 2016, 55% of her constituents voted Remain.

After meeting at Whitstable train station on a cold morning in January, Ms Duffield takes Mr Chiles to Barton Marine Equipment Ltd - a firm in Tyler Way, Whitstable, that makes spare parts for boats - with 65% of its production sold to other European countries.

The firm is convinced that, if the British government fails to reach a trade deal with the EU, it will be forced to open a new facility in Europe.

CEO Suzanne Baulstone said: "I think the disgraceful part of this whole Brexit scenario is that, in order for Barton to survive, we will have to incorporate in Europe and set up a facility in Europe - there's just no other way for us to do it.

"And it's disgraceful that I have to take wealth and jobs and move them abroad instead of keeping them here - in Kent, and in the UK. And that's the shame of this."

Barton Marine CEO Suzanne Blaustone. Picture: BBC (6969485)
Barton Marine CEO Suzanne Blaustone. Picture: BBC (6969485)

Operations manager Dermot Bealey added: "From our point of view, leaving Europe isn't about losing an export market - it's about losing our home market.

"Sending stuff to Germany, France, Greece is just the same as sending stuff around the UK."

Ms Duffield explained that it is stories like this that mean she was unable to vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal.

"And I don't believe the boss is bluffing when she says Barton Marine may have to up sticks if we leave without a deal."

"This is a unique business in my part of the world, and I cannot vote for a deal that's going to put her out of business or move this business away," she said. "I don't want Suzanne to leave."

Later in the programme, Ms Duffield revealed: "Overwhelmingly I get 'stop Brexit' emails, or 'let's stay in' or 'let's have a people's vote'.

"I hope we're moving towards a people's vote."

When asked what would happen if such a vote resulted in another decision to leave the European Union, she said: "I don't think it's going to go perfectly well either way.

Barton marine CEO Suzanne Balustone with Panorama presenter Adrian Chiles and MP Rosie Duffield. Picture: BBC
Barton marine CEO Suzanne Balustone with Panorama presenter Adrian Chiles and MP Rosie Duffield. Picture: BBC

"People are really angry, but I think we need to understand why they're angry. They're angry about some of the things that happen in this country that are the government's fault and politicians in Britain's fault like austerity.

"They're not really angry at the EU, I don't think."

Adrian Chiles also revealed the results of a new YouGov poll - which shows 85% of people have little or no trust in their MP, while 75% have little or no trust in the EU.

"So people have more distrust in their MPs than in the EU," said Mr Chiles.

"That's really upsetting," responded Ms Duffield.

Several people have taken to social media to praise the MP's performance on the programme.

Harry Jenkins wrote on Facebook: "She was excellent, a breath of fresh air in a sea of leave voters. Good on her putting country and constituents above politics."

But others were left unimpressed. Susan Taylor wrote: "The five-minute slot on Politics Lite was more interesting and gave more information than this half-hour programme. Very disappointing."


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