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Johnson suggests he knows more about car making than JLR boss

Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

The ex-foreign secretary cites his backing of electric vehicles over diesel ones.

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson (Brian Lawless/PA)

Boris Johnson has suggested he knows more about car manufacturing than Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) chief executive Ralf Speth.

Insisting Brexit would not damage the economy, the former foreign secretary said industry had a strong future outside the EU.

Mr Johnson dismissed claims that recent job losses, including at the car giant, had been the result of Brexit uncertainty.

The ex-Cabinet minister said JLR’s management had said staffing cuts were overwhelmingly to do with the “diesel crisis”.

JLR announced last week it is cutting 4,500 jobs under plans to make £2.5 billion of cost savings. It is not yet known where the cuts will be made, but JLR employs around 1,800 people at the i54 site in Wolverhampton and thousands more at Solihull and in Castle Bromwich.

The company also announced plans to invest further in electrification, with electric drive units to be manufactured at the Wolverhampton engine factory.

When it was put to Mr Johnson that Mr Speth, who has expressed concerns about a no-deal Brexit, knew more about the car industry than he did, the former foreign secretary told LBC: “Well actually, it’s an interesting point.

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“I’m not certain he does, by the way.”

Mr Johnson then cited a conversation he had with Mr Speth when he was London mayor on the future of electric vehicles (EVs).

The Tory MP said: “I mean, I do not claim superior knowledge of every aspect of car manufacturing, okay.

“But, I simply said that I thought that EVs, electric vehicles, did represent the future, that we should be going down that road.

“And he said, ‘no, no, no, diesel is great, and we will stick with this’. And I’m afraid, I hesitate to say this, but I think events have vindicated me on that point rather than him.”

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