Britain’s car manufacturers have urged Prime Minister Theresa May to rethink her position on the customs union as investment in the country’s motor industry halves.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said investment in new cars and plants slumped to £347m in the first half of this year, down from £647m in the same period in 2017.
More than 850,000 jobs directly and indirectly employed in the sector are at risk because of Brexit, the trade body warned, and called on the government to stick with the benefits of the single market.
Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “There is growing frustration in global boardrooms at the slow pace of negotiations.
“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.”
BMW would shut UK plants if Brexit hits supply chain
BMW says it cannot manufacture its products in the UK if Brexit means its supply chain is disrupted.
“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.”
It’s the latest call for clarity over Britain’s future trading position with the European Union after German carmaker BMW warned it cannot manufacture its products in the UK if Brexit means its supply chain is disrupted.
BMW employs almost 8,000 people and has four plants in the UK.
Passenger jet maker Airbus has also warned it could also pull out of the UK with the loss of thousands of jobs if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.
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Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said: ”The Government has refused to listen to the cries from businesses and unions for clarity in their Brexit negotiations and for a customs union to support jobs and industry.
“The Government must listen to businesses and unions, negotiate with the EU rather than amongst themselves, and secure a jobs first deal which keeps skilled jobs and successful industries in the UK.”