A new film by Unite is highlighting the need to protect the United Kingdom’s crucial automotive sector from the uncertainty of a hard Brexit during the run up to the general election on June 8.
In six weeks the country will decide which direction post-Brexit Britain will travel in and Unite members are being asked to share the film with their MPs on social media and ask them to back Britain’s automotive workers.
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said, “We’ve got a world beating automotive sector. A hard Brexit would mean tariffs on cars manufactured in the UK. It would mean parts coming into and out of the country would also be hit by tariffs, possibly three or four times.
“We’re urging members to ask their candidates where they stand. Are they prepared to risk a world class industry for a hard Brexit? The answer has got to be no.”
The prospect of a Tory-led hard Brexit is causing alarm across a range of industries – from aviation and banking to food – but none more so than in the thriving automotive sector and the 814,000 people it employs.
JLR Solihull plant convenor, Mick Graham, said, “We really could do with the government coming out and committing that they will continue to secure us single market access on our current basis.”
Car manufacturers have repeatedly warned that the industry, which contributes more than £70bn a year to Britain’s GDP and exports 80 percent of it products, needs tariff free access to the single market to remain successful.
Under the threat of Theresa May’s hard Brexit, Toyota has warned that a tariff free trade deal is essential for its UK operations, BMW has signalled that it has not ruled out moving its Mini production plants elsewhere and Surry-based JLR has expressed concerns over the negative impact on the skilled labour market. As well as selling its Vauxhall operations to Peugeot, Ford is considering moving its huge car finance arm to the EU.
When a newly elected government comes to power in June, it is imperative that they understand the vital role the automotive sector plays in Britain’s economy and are committed to protecting and furthering its interests.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders CEO, Mike Hawes, said, “Globally if you’re to be successful you need industry, you need the workforce and you need government to act as one to make sure you remain competitive.”
While the Labour party has demonstrated it recognises the challenges faced by the automotive industry, the same cannot be said for the Conservatives, whose threats to crash out of the EU onto damaging World Trade Organisation rules and turn the UK into deregulated tax-haven have created uncertainty in the industry and alienated Britain’s largest trading partners.
Labour has pledged to gain tariff and impediment free access to the EU, to retain all workers rights and to invest in the skills, technology and infrastructure that will ensure Britain remains at the forefront of the global automotive industry.
Shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said, “The government’s role is to provide a fertile business environment, so that businesses take those risks, they take those investment decisions, they expand their assets, their machinery, their workforce.
“We need to make sure that in the next 10 years Britain is a high-skilled high-paid workforce.”
Please watch the film above and share with your local MP.