New study finds working class men have the most to lose from Brexit

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:39 05 October 2018

Workers at Nissan's plant in Sunderland. Photo: PA.

Workers at Nissan's plant in Sunderland. Photo: PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Working class British men that voted overwhelmingly for Leave will be hit hardest by Brexit, a new study has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that males with GCSE qualifications or below are more likely than other groups to work in industries at extreme risk from new trade barriers with the EU after the UK leaves.

The IFS says clothing manufacture, transport equipment, car manufacturing and the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors are most “exposed”, given they sell a large amount of their output to the EU.

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Agnes Norris Keiller, co-author of the report and economist at IFS, said: “If barriers to trade with the EU increase, particularly the sort of ‘non-tariff’ barriers created by customs checks and regulatory divergence, then some sectors of the economy will be affected more than others.

“Parts of the manufacturing sector are likely to be hardest hit. As a result, the jobs or wages of men with low formal qualifications working in certain manual occupations may be under particular threat.

“These are the sorts of workers who are most likely to find it hard to adapt and to find new roles that are equally well paid elsewhere.”

Data from Ipsos Mori suggests the majority of these working class British males with no qualifications voted for Leave in the referendum.

The report comes after Nissan warned a hard Brexit will have “serious implications” for the car-maker’s Sunderland factory.

3.7 million workers in the UK are employed in industries the IFS classifies as “very highly exposed” - sectors estimated to lose more than 5% of their value if trade with the EU was on WTO rules.

Nearly 20% of men with low levels of formal qualifications work in these industries compared with 15% of highly educated men and less than 10% of highly educated women.

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“Men with fewer educational qualifications in Northern Ireland and the West Midlands may be particularly exposed,” the IFS said.

Workers in process, plant and machine operative occupations - roughly half a million people - are also at risk.

“This should be a matter of particular concern for policymakers,” the IFS said, as these workers tend to be older and are more likely to have skills specific to their current roles and industries of employment.

“As a result, they may find it particularly difficult to move to as well-paid employment in less adversely affected industries.”

David Lammy, Best for Britain spokesperson and Labour MP, called on the prime minister to halt Brexit.

He said: “Many explained Brexit as the gut reaction of workers to the loss of traditional working class jobs following technological advances and globalisation. The sad irony is that Brexit will make the situation worse for British manufacturing industry and the hardworking families who depend on it.

“In the Prime Minister’s speech to Conservative Party conference, she warned against ‘bogus solutions that would make things worse.’ Theresa May knows that there is no greater example of a bogus solution than Brexit. It is nothing more than snake oil that will deepen poverty and inequality across Britain.

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