Tory leadership contenders must take a no deal Brexit off the table Unite has warned, after car manufacturing figures fell for the twelfth month in a row.
The union called on leadership hopefuls Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to rule out leaving the EU without a deal to avoid driving the UK car industry off a cliff and into a “sea of uncertainty”.
According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today (27 June), car production was down by a fifth in the year to date, with 557,295 new models rolling off production lines – almost 150,000 fewer compared with the same point in 2018.
A chunk of the reduction was caused by manufacturers bringing forward summer shutdowns to April in anticipation of the now-delayed March date for the UK to leave the EU .
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said, “The latest car figures underline that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for people working in car factories and workers in the supply chain.
“Many of these workers will be looking on in horror at the Tory leadership election and Boris Johnson’s threats to drive one of the jewels in the UK’s manufacturing crown off a cliff into a sea of no-deal Brexit uncertainty.”
Crashing out of the EU could lead to investment in UK automotive factories running dry as well as a continuation in the fall of number of cars being manufactured.
Under a such a scenario, car workers face restricted working weeks in factories, redundancies across the supply chain and the movement of production to European sites.
Turner said, “This no-deal Brexit virility test of the Tory leadership contenders needs to stop. UK car makers are facing a perfect storm of global and technological challenges while grappling with continued Brexit uncertainty.
“The last thing they and car workers need is a no-deal Brexit ‘Groundhog Day’ and another round of Brexit induced plant shutdowns.”
Britain’s aerospace industry would also be at risk of serious damage under a no deal Brexit if manufacturers decide to move production to European sites to avoid supply chains being interrupted by customs delays at EU/UK borders.
Turner added, “Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt need to wake up to the harm that a no-deal Brexit will have on people’s livelihoods and futures.
“They need to take no-deal off the table and commit to securing a customs union with the European Union which guarantees the frictionless trade and tariff free access that is central to the success of the UK car industry and wider manufacturing.”