The chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover was “making it up” when he warned that a hard Brexit would wipe out its profits and cost tens of thousands of jobs, a Tory Brexiteer has claimed.
Former shadow minister Sir Bernard Jenkin accused Professor Dr Ralf Speth of scaremongering over a prediction that crashing out of the EU would have a “horrifying” effect on the leading automotive firm’s business.
Prof Speth had told the UK’s first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit in Birmingham – attended by the Prime Minister – that a hard Brexit could result in the “worst of times” for the UK while the cost to Jaguar Land Rover would be more than £1.2 billion a year.
Asked his view on the German businessman’s warning on Monday, Sir Bernard, a member of the Eurosceptic European Research Group, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I’m afraid I think he’s making it up.
“We’ve had figures made up all the time by the scaremongers in this debate and I’m afraid nobody believes them.”
The warning by Prof Speth, who has worked in the car industry for more than 30 years, followed similar warnings from other industry bosses, including Airbus and BMW, about the potentially damaging consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Sir Bernard’s comments were described as “embarrassing” by pro-Remain Tory MP Anna Soubry.
She said on Twitter: “The Conservative Party is the party of business. I’m backing Raif (sic) Speth & all the other business leaders & trade unions who are being honest about the disaster of a #NoDeal hard #Brexit & are increasingly backing @peoplesvote_uk.”
Technical papers released by the Government on Thursday warned that cars made in the UK may no longer be valid for sale in the European Union without a Brexit deal.
Type approval, which demonstrates that vehicles comply with safety and environmental standards, would not be valid for sales in the EU if issued in the UK, it said.
UK manufacturers would need to obtain type approval in an EU country to continue selling their products there.
The Government said it plans to issue provisional UK type approval to firms which already hold EU versions.
Jaguar Land Rover declined to comment.