Car industry warns of 860,000 job losses surrounding Brexit uncertainty

Brexit Article 50

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has warned Theresa May 860,000 job losses unless the government “rethinks” Brexit negotiations.

Car manufacturers released a lengthy statement for the prime minister and warned that manufacturers including BMW, Honda (NYSE: HMC) and Nissan (TYO: 7201) would move production out of the UK.

“With decisions on new vehicle models in the UK due soon, the government must take steps to boost investor confidence and safeguard the thousands of jobs that depend on the sector,” the statement said.

The UK’s car industry employs 856,000 people in Britain, which could be at risk if the government does not remain in the customs union.

Michael Hawes, chief executive of SMMT, said: “The current position, with conflicting messages and red lines goes directly against the interests of the UK automotive sector which has thrived on single market and customs union membership.”

“There is no credible ‘plan B’ for frictionless customs arrangements, nor is it realistic to expect that new trade deals can be agreed with the rest of the world that will replicate the immense value of trade with the EU. Government must rethink its position on the customs union.”

“There is no Brexit dividend for our industry, particularly in what is an increasingly hostile and protectionist global trading environment. Our message to government is that until it can demonstrate exactly how a new model for customs and trade with the EU can replicate the benefits we currently enjoy, don’t change it,” he added.

Car manufacturer BMW (ETR: BMW) has warned the government that it will close its UK production sites if components are caught up in customs delays following Brexit. BMW employs 8,000 people in the UK.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said over the weekend that threats from businesses surrounding Brexit were “completely inappropriate” and affected Brexit negotiations at a critical time.


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Safiya focuses on business and political stories for UK Investor Magazine. Her interests include international development, travel and politics.