The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has joined the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in calling for a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table as both associations highlight the potential catastrophic industry ramifications of such a move.
Speaking after last night’s vote saw MPs decisively reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the FTA has said that a cliff-edge departure from Europe would risk putting the UK’s trading platform and economy in jeopardy.
James Hookham, deputy CEO at FTA, said: “Mrs May’s Lancaster House speech, two years ago to the day, promised that frictionless trade would be protected, whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU: this promise has not materialised. A no deal would increase delays at the country’s borders, increase red tape and costs for logistics businesses already operating on narrow margins, restrict access for transport to the EU and reduce the available skilled workforce for logistics operators – all problematic on their own, but when viewed together, a perfect storm which could cause untold damage to businesses and individuals right across the country, not just those trading directly with the EU.”
His comments follow those of Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who last night reiterated the industry’s concerns that a no-deal Brexit would risk destroying the UK automotive sector.
Research published two months ago by the SMMT has found that almost seven in 10 (68.5%) manufacturers with operations in the UK said their profitability would be negatively affected by a no-deal Brexit, with 53.9% concerned about their ability to secure new overseas business and a similar number worried about maintaining investment in their UK operations. A further half said a no-deal scenario would undermine their ability to maintain their existing workforce.
Fewer than one in 10 (9%) of respondents said they could see any positive impact from a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking at the time, Tony Walker, SMMT president and managing director, Toyota Motor Europe – London Office, said: “In the short term, crashing out of the EU would have immediate and devastating impacts, with border chaos disrupting the Just in Time basis on which our business depends. Disruption could last for weeks – even months. For the longer term, a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would harm our competitiveness, undermine sales and cost jobs.”
The SMMT is now urging all sides in Parliament to “work together to find a way forward and put the necessary mechanisms in place to prevent this happening and explore alternatives that protect our future”.
Mike Hawes added: “Leaving the EU, our biggest and most important trading partner, without a deal and without a transition period to cushion the blow would put this sector and jobs at immediate risk. ‘No deal’ must be avoided at all costs. Business needs certainty so we now need politicians to do everything to prevent irreversible damage to this vital sector.”