“No-deal Brexit is simply not an option,” warns the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, in an open letter addressed to the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, along with a similar message from industry body, the FTA.
In blunt reference to a potential ‘no-deal’ Brexit, Hawes states, “A no-deal Brexit presents an existential threat to our industry,” and “No-deal Brexit is simply not an option.” Adding to this Hawes said, “we must ensure the sector continues to enjoy – without interruption – preferential trade with critical markets around the world, including the EU,” as well as a not so subtle reminder that the automotive industry, “contributes £18.6 billion to the UK, employs hundreds of thousands and makes the most significant contribution to UK trade of any manufacturing sector”.
“There will be more change in automotive in the next ten years than there has been in the last fifty,” Hawes said.
The letter goes on to warn that the automotive industry is, “a highly competitive sector internationally, with fine margins”, but that the UK sector remains strong, with high levels of productivity, a skilled and flexible workforce, and first-rate research and engineering facilities.
A core message to the PM is that government must continue to work in partnership with the sector and secure the construction of a Gigafactory (a battery production facility capable of enough production to supply around 300,000 electric vehicles with battery packs annually). In addition, the PM is asked to support “the transition to zero emission vehicles by investing in charging infrastructure and increasing consumer incentives” to buying into more environmentally sustainable transport.
The message echoes similar concerns from the FTA about a no-deal Brexit for logistics businesses and international supply chain managers.
“Logistics businesses need to take the prospect of a No Deal Brexit seriously,” James Hookham, FTA’s deputy CEO and head of Brexit readiness said, “and speed up any preparations which can be made. While there are still areas of uncertainty for those tasked with moving goods and services between the UK and Europe, most of the requirements that will kick in, in the event of no-deal, have now been published and are freely available.
“In the run up to the 29 March Brexit, FTA lobbied the UK and the EU to obtain important temporary easements and contingency measures which will assist the industry to keep our trading links open. However, many of these will expire, or are due to lapse shortly after the new 31 October Brexit deadline, and FTA is urging the new ministerial line-ups to prioritise extending or re-establishing the necessary measures to ensure that trade can continue to flow freely to and from British industry.”
To read the SMMT’s letter to the Prime Minister in full, click here.