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With the media currently dominated by the Brexit debate, we have been looking into the impact that it could have on recruiters in both the short and the long term. To find out more please click here to read our blog.

Arguments for and against the Brexit dominated the latest APSCo Members Meeting, held on 28th April in London and linked via satellite to Manchester and Birmingham. The debate opened with overviews from a legal perspective, led by representatives from law firm Squire Patton Boggs. A key theme of these discussions was one of uncertainty about the exact repercussions of the Brexit, but all parties agreed that a complex legislative process would ensue. The legal team also discussed the issue of immigration, with Kate Gamester from Squire Patton Boggs noting that there would be a “very different” immigration policy in the UK if we were to leave the EU, possibly leading to skills shortages due to various caps that might be enforced.

Peter Luff, a member of the European movement’s referendum strategy team, and Alex Story, an official speaker for Grassroots Out/ campaign, led the Brexit debate with each outlining their cases before answering questions from the audience. Peter made a strong case for the remain vote, but admitted his biggest concern was that members of the pro-Brexit camp are so passionate about leaving the EU that they might succeed purely because the ‘remain’ voters tend to be more passive and could be less likely to cast their vote. He added that there would be an enormous increase in regulations as a result of the Brexit, which is inevitable given the number of EU laws that currently govern the UK.

Alex Story’s key argument centred on a belief that the EU simply “is not working” in its current state and is “unreformable”. He noted that the growing economic power of countries outside the EU, such as China, means the UK has a wealth of trade options that we could concentrate on if we were no longer bound by EU commitments. Yet could not answer whether or not historical EU policies would still apply - particularly those affecting the recruitment industry, such as the Agency Workers Regulations and the Working Time Directive.

APSCo launched its manifesto on the EU Referendum at the conference, with the report aiming to give an insight into how the EU affects the professional staffing sector. It includes three recommendations:

That a ‘post-hoc’ impact assessment of the Temporary Agency Workers Directive should be produced by the EU’s Impact Assessment Board, and the UK Government.

That the views of the flexible staffing sector and independent professionals be incorporated at a European level.

In the event that the UK leaves the EU, the inevitable trade agreements should be drawn up in consultation with the private sector.

As the meeting closed a show of hands in the Manchester conference indicated that the majority of members in attendance will vote to remain in the EU, although a number of people were still undecided. The referendum will be held on Thursday 23rd June.