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Auto industry warns of 'cliff edge' over Brexit

Business | Published:

The UK auto industry says it faces a 'cliff edge' unless the government can secure an interim Brexit deal maintaining the single market and customs union.

The auto industry is a major employer in the West Midlands

The industry body the SMMT says it does not believe a final agreement with the EU will be achieved by March 2019 and says: "Without agreed interim arrangements, businesses would be faced with the ‘cliff edge’ and forced to trade under the World Trade Organisation rules – the worst foreseeable outcome for the sector, its employees and the British economy."

At the same time the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released figures showing the auto industry employs 139,000 people in the UK and saw record turnover of £77.5 billion in 2016.

It employs tens of thousands of people in the Black Country and wider West Midlands, working at firms ranging from small component manufacturers to major car makers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin.

The SMMT is calling on government to seek an interim arrangement with the EU that would maintain membership of the single market and customs union until a final agreement on a new relationship with the EU is negotiated and implemented.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We accept that we are leaving the European Union and we share the desire for that departure to be a success. But our biggest fear is that, in two years’ time, we fall off a cliff edge – no deal, outside the single market and customs union and trading on inferior WTO terms.

"This would undermine our competitiveness and our ability to attract the investment that is critical to future growth.

“If the UK cannot secure – and implement – a bespoke and comprehensive new relationship with the EU in two years’ time, we need a back-up plan. Having looked at all the alternatives, we need government to seek an interim arrangement whereby we stay within the single market and customs union until that new relationship is implemented.”

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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