Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 30th July 2018
Representatives of the UK’s car making companies have expressed major concerns about the potential impact on their industry of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
In fact, the idea that Britain might crash out of the European Union without a deal on future relations and customs issues is almost unthinkable, according to Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Mr Hawes is quoted by Reuters as saying that carmakers are “increasingly concerned” about the prospect of a no deal Brexit becoming a reality.
“No deal…is just not an option. It would be seriously damaging to the industry not just in the UK but in Europe as well,” he is quoted as saying.
The SMMT’s chief executive was speaking after his organisation announced details of car sales in the first half of this year, which showed a 3.3 per cent annual decline in output across the sector.
Exports are described as being the driving force behind demand for British-made cars so far this year, with concerns rising that trading with countries in the EU might soon become considerably more difficult and costly.
As many as 850,000 people are estimated to be employed directly or indirectly by car industry operators across the UK.
“The first half figures are a reminder of the exports-led nature of UK Automotive, the integrated EU supply chain and our mutual dependency on free and frictionless trade,” said Mr Hawes in a statement.
Prime minister Theresa May recently laid out the basis of the British government’s Brexit negotiating position in a whitepaper describing what has become known as the Chequers Deal.
Mr Hawes from the SMMT has welcomed those plans as “a step in the right direction to safeguard future growth, jobs and consumer choice – not just in Britain but right across Europe.”
However, there are doubts about whether the EU’s negotiators will agree to the terms of the Chequers proposals and whether any form of withdrawal deal will be passed by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons.
Consequently, there are growing concerns that no deal at all will be agreed between the EU and the UK before the current deadline for Britain’s departure from the EU in March next year.