Top marks for Matthew in Brexit essay competition

Thomas Whitham Sixth Form ran an essay competition in conjunction with the Burnley Express on the potential impact of Brexit on Burnley.
Thomas Whitham Sixth Form ran an essay competition in conjunction with the Burnley Express on the potential impact of Brexit on Burnley.
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The future’s bright for a Year 13 student who has topped an essay-writing competition and today we publish his winning essay.

Matthew Fenn (18) was crowned the winner after wowing judge and Burnley Express editor Chris Daggett with both his writing skills and sharp understanding of the competition's topic.

Matthew Fenn was crowned the winner after wowing judge and Burnley Express editor Chris Daggett. (s)

Matthew Fenn was crowned the winner after wowing judge and Burnley Express editor Chris Daggett. (s)

The Thomas Whitham Sixth Form student landed himself in the top three after impressing English teacher Miss Swarbrick with his focused analysis of the impact of Brexit on the town.

"To be picked as the winner felt great," said Matthew.

"To have something I wrote be recognised by the newspaper gives me a great sense of pride.

"The challenge required a lot of research but felt engaging and personal, as the results of Brexit will affect me directly.

"To have a challenge where I can look at the facts as well as give my own viewpoint on a more public scale was something I'm glad to have taken part in.'

Congratulations also go to the two runner-ups, Joseph Veevers and Katie Larter.

For better, of for worse?

Brexit was divisive for the whole country, with only a 3.8% difference between remaining in the European Union and leaving. In Burnley, the vote was not as neck-and-neck, with 66.6% voting in favour of Brexit.

As the deadline for a deal and eventual separation draws ever closer, it’s pertinent to take a closer look at what effects leaving the EU could have in store for Burnley.

According to Burnley.gov.uk, there are currently 37,200 people employed in Burnley as of 2015, with the majority of jobs being in the aerospace and manufacturing industries at a rate of 1.5 times the national average.

As well as this, there are 2705 active businesses in Burnley, and that number is expected to rise, with the amount of businesses being birthed outnumbering those that “die” (325 compared to 250).

Burnley was named “the most enterprising town in Britain” in 2013 as the amount of business and overall interest in the town began to rise significantly due to its support for small and medium-sized companies.

Some people may argue that this rise in business is due to the grants given to Lancashire by the European Union, as Lancashire has been given £35 million by the EU since 2008 and roughly £10 million of this has gone into support for the smaller businesses that have fought to grow and succeed.

1166 forms of employment have been created through this scheme, breathing new life into the county as well as giving both smaller enterprises a stable support mechanism and a new opportunity to find paying jobs for those who were faced with unemployment.

By leaving the EU this funding would cease, reducing the “safety net” for the smaller players in the world of business as well as the possibility of a reduced quantity of jobs.

This isn’t to say that Brexit would completely destroy the job market, as a deal may be reached that allows businesses to thrive, yet this may be unlikely due to the slow speed of negotiations as well as a “no deal” scenario being a possibility, increasing tariffs on both imports and exports since the rules of the World Trade Organisation would have to take effect.

Following the results of Brexit, the pound saw a decline in exchange rates when compared to the US Dollar, affecting the lives of every person residing in Britain.

Though increasing percentage by percentage since the results on June 23rd, 2016, the pound is expected to fall again if “no deal” becomes a reality.

This constant shift in the pound’s value could bring about situations such as a more expensive baseline for standard of living.

With the average wage of a Burnley resident being roughly £20,000, this could result in many people being forced closer to the breadline and create more relative poverty in the town and its surrounding areas in a worst-case scenario.

Those already living near this state of poverty may indeed be thrust into it, not being able to support themselves and/or their families and having no option but to seek assistance from the Government to apply for universal credit, which many have openly criticised as a program that “fails” those that need it.

If a deal could be reached with the EU, the pound’s value may become somewhat stable compared to the past 17 months, causing investment into sterling and thus maintaining or improving standards of living.

This may happen even if no deal is reached with the European Union as without a portion of the country’s GNP going to the Union, the economy may be able to increase. However, the past year has cast doubt upon this theory.

The idea of not having to pay into the EU is what convinced many people to vote leave in the referendum, since without a hole in the country’s budget going towards things that would not perceivably affect a citizen of Britain in their daily life, the money could be better spent on improving the standard of British life, such as investing in underfunded sectors and services such as the NHS and education.

If the value of the pound falls after leaving the EU however, these services, which are seen as a lifeline for many, could decline in standard once more.

Service in Burnley General Hospital has been reduced use over the year, and many patients have been transferred to hospitals such as Royal Blackburn Hospital since Burnley General cannot provide what is needed for its townsfolk.

My personal opinion on the effect Brexit will have on Burnley is negative since in the past we have relied on grants just to stay afloat from the European Union that we are choosing to leave.

I do believe, however, that the separation from the European Union will not go as badly as people may imagine, but recent events (such as slow negotiation) have brought concern to many, with some Britons even calling for a second referendum.

This I do not agree with as the British people have already made their choice and we must see through our separation of the EU, be it for the better or the worse.

My thoughts reside with the town’s well-being as I want Burnley to retain its title as the most enterprising town in the United Kingdom, and I do not want to see such budding talent and industry be lost.

By Matthew Fenn