The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has written to Boris Johnson congratulating him on his appointment as Prime Minister while at the same time delivering the simple message that a “no-deal Brexit is simply not an option”.
In his letter, Mike Hawes pointed out: “There will be more change in automotive in the next ten years than there has been in the last 50. The UK sector remains strong, with high levels of productivity, a skilled and flexible workforce, and first-rate research and engineering facilities, so we are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge.
“Automotive is, however, a highly competitive sector internationally, with fine margins. We cannot afford to be complacent, and we need the right policy, business and trading environment if we are to thrive.
“Government must continue to work in partnership with the sector, through the industrial strategy, focusing on those actions that will deliver the greatest benefits to our industry and the UK as a whole.
“Above all, we must ensure the sector continues to enjoy – without interruption – preferential trade with critical markets around the world, including the EU.”
Mr Hawes told the PM that the automotive sector contributed £18.6bn to the UK, employing hundreds of thousands and making “the most significant contribution to UK trade of any manufacturing sector.”
He added: “We cannot, however, continue to deliver these benefits, or take advantage of new opportunities, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. A no-deal Brexit presents an existential threat to our industry. We need a deal with the EU that secures frictionless and tariff free trade. No-deal Brexit is simply not an option.”
Mike Hawes has also welcomed the Exiting the European Union Committee report and its finding that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be a fundamental risk to the UK automotive industry’s competitiveness and jobs. “UK and EU automotive industries are deeply integrated and it is vital we maintain all the conditions that have made us globally competitive,” he said. “As echoed in the report, at the very least, this means tariff-free trade, frictionless borders. ‘No-deal’ must be avoided at all costs or risk irreversible damage to this vital sector.”