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The UK book industry is putting a brave face on the result of the General Election and calling for positive, pro-active lobbying on areas like copyright and the removal of VAT on e-books.
Broadly speaking the publishing industry had favoured either Labour or the Liberal Democrats, but woke up on the morning after 12 December’s election to find Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government with a historic majority of 78, giving it 364 MPs to Labour’s 203. The Liberal Democrats have 11 MPs.
Faber Chief Executive Stephen Page said: “The industry needs to get onto the front foot, alongside other creative industries, and persuade this government to take seriously its fastest growing sector, and in post-Brexit negotiations to ensure that copyright is strongly supported and that there are as few barriers to trade as possible.”
He added: “This has also been a worrying time for democracy and the truth, and as an industry we have to be on the right side of the truth and stand with the writers we publish to assert standards that support freedom of expression and adherence to standards that on have been blatantly ignored and undermined in recent times.”
Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said: “The government now has the mandate it wanted to push us far from Europe, and a majority in Parliament to back that – so we need to keep at the forefront of their negotiations that our gold standard copyright system cannot be weakened as a bargaining counter in new trade deals.
“We also need to take steps to make arrangements with Europe to ensure that we can still sell into these key markets, attract talent and essential workers, and allow free movement of performers and translators and cultural dialogue. Amongst other things we must open discussions urgently about what that means for enacting the European Copyright Directive into UK law. Finally, there is no bar to now Axe the Reading Tax [VAT on e-books]. This simple measure has wide all party support and should be effected as soon as possible.”
At the Publishers Association, Chief Executive Stephen Lotinga is taking a positive stance. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Government on the key priorities of the UK publishing industry. Many returning Ministers and MPs will be familiar with our needs, but there will of course be a large number of new MPs who will have to be brought up to speed as soon as possible. The UK publishing industry needs the maximum possible access to Europe—which is our single largest export market—and we will be continuing to make this case to the new government as their Brexit plans progress.”