Brexit deal 'essential' to protect Jaguar Land Rover jobs
Approval for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal is essential to protect jobs at the region’s luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover, a senior politician has said.
There were reports this week that the business, which has its £1 billion engine manufacturing centre at the i54 next to the M54, is planning to axe up to 5,000 of its 40,000 workforce across the UK in the new year.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street has been in “daily” talks with the JLR hierarchy, including chief executive Ralf Speth, about the issues it is facing.
And he said that he has spoken to senior JLR managers and says reports of 5,000 jobs going are “rumours” but are very concerning.
Now the Conservative mayor has said that support for the withdrawal agreement, which goes to a House of Commons vote in the week beginning January 14, would remove some of the clouds hanging around the high end car manufacturer, which has had recent serious reductions in sales volumes worldwide.
“If we get a firm decision around Brexit, that will remove some of the clouds that are hanging over JLR at the moment,” said Mr Street, who supports Mrs May’s deal because he believes it will support manufacturing industry in the West Midlands.
“Although I am a firm believer that we have to deliver Brexit, that’s what the people of this region voted for, we have to deliver it in a way that does not bring about the no-deal consequences.”
The car giant's cuts are part of a £2.5 billion turnaround plan to ward off the threat from Brexit, falling sales in China and a drop in demand for diesel cars.
It has already reduced working hours for some workers at its Wolverhampton factory ahead of Christmas.
Mr Street has been among the politicans speaking out against a ‘hard’ Brexit, warning that it could destroy the West Midlands’ car industry and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs as JLR, owned by Tata Motors, might then leave the UK to build cars elsewhere in the EU if suitable customs arrangements were not in place post-Brexit.
Mr Street has warned Government ministers that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could have a disastrous affect on West Midlands manufacturers with a 10 per cent hit to the region’s economy.
He still believes that MPs will agree a deal in the new year as there is a majority in the House of Commons for a deal that will allow the trading terms that the Uk currently enjoys to broadly continue.
Mr Street does not support calls for a second referendum on Brexit but says there could be a case for delaying Brexit, due to take place on March 29, if that was the only way to avoid leaving with no deal.