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Labour’s Tom Watson urges prime minister to give culture a voice on Brexit subcommittee

Tom Watson. Photo: Tom Oxley.
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Labour MP Tom Watson has written to Theresa May urging her to give the new culture secretary a seat on the cabinet’s Brexit subcommittee, so that the views of the creative sector can be “heard at the highest levels of government”.

Watson, shadow culture secretary, told The Stage that securing the right Brexit deal was “absolutely vital to the ongoing strength of the UK’s creative industries”. He said new culture secretary Jeremy Wright should have a seat on the Brexit subcommittee.

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“Our thriving theatre industry depends on a deal that will allow European talent to come to this country, shows to be able to tour easily around the continent, and a customs arrangement to ensure imported equipment doesn’t get stuck in lengthy delays at borders,” he said.

He added: “It’s completely short-sighted to refuse to give DCMS a seat at the Brexit subcommittee table. I’ve written to the prime minister to ask her to put that right and give the new secretary of state the chance to advocate for UK theatre and other creative sectors at the top table.”

In his letter, seen by The Stage, Watson said he was asking May to “reconsider the membership of the cabinet’s Brexit subcommittee”, adding that he had also asked for the previous two secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport to be invited to join it.

“It is my hope, that by adding the new secretary of state, the views of these industries will be heard at the highest levels of government,” he wrote.

Watson highlighted the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis and added: “There are now shoes that can be filled by DCMS ministers.”

He said the decisions that would be made by the committee about Brexit “will have a lasting impact on these industries”.

“I implore you to consider the views of this sector and ensure Britain can continue to be a world leader in creative and digital industries in the years to come,” he added.

The government did not respond to a request for a comment.

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