We released the results of a survey of our members this week that showed three-quarters of UK automotive businesses warning that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit will threaten their future viability. Half of respondents said they had already been hit by uncertainty about the future UK-EU relationship. One in five has lost business; a third cancelled or postponed investment decisions; more than one in 10 cut jobs. And we haven’t even left yet.
The Brexit impact is doubly frustrating when we have such a good workforce producing some of the best cars available anywhere in the world, and a headstart on the next generation of technologies. We’ve made clear all along that no-deal is simply not an option, considering the damage that it will do to a sector that has steadily become one of the country’s most valuable assets.
Now that the political agreement has been passed by the European Council, the ball is back in Parliament’s court, and the vote has been scheduled for 11 December. The politics behind Brexit are very complex, and at this point different outcomes are possible, but what we really need now is a Brexit deal that provides breathing space in the form of a status quo transition. Ultimately, however, we crave stability and confidence for UK businesses.
It was great to see so many of you at the Annual Dinner this week. It’s important to be able to take stock of where we are, and though we live in challenging times, that shouldn’t stop us being proud of the automotive industry that we have collectively built into one of the world’s finest. It was good to have Business Secretary Greg Clark with us on the night – he fully understand our concerns and it was encouraging to hear from him that the Prime Minister and the government remain committed to securing the frictionless trade on which this sector – and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands – depend.