With new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirming today (Thursday) that overseas demand for UK-built cars is at the heart of the industry’s success, the leader of the country’s biggest manufacturing union has urged the prime minister to think again on her threat to turn her back on the single market.
According to the trade body, car production has reached a 17 year high with 1.7 million cars rolling off UK production lines last year, driven by overseas demand. Some 1.35 million of these cars went overseas, mostly to the European Union.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said that the figures confirmed that the automotive sector was the cornerstone of UK manufacturing and that the government must retain access to the vital European Union single market.
Worryingly however, the SMMT said that the success of the sector is the result of billions of investment in recent years but warned that investment is falling – down one third in 2016 on the previous year.
Responding to the news, Len McCluskey said: “This is further confirmation that the automotive sector is a cornerstone of our manufacturing industry. It brings wealth to this country, and good skilled jobs to working class communities.
“That is why prime minister Theresa May must think again on her threat to turn her back on the single market which supports the UK car industry. Like it or not, Europe is a major market but also our biggest support because car manufacturing in this country relies on a supply chain stretching across the EU.
“Worryingly, investment is drying up, a sure sign that the industry is bracing itself for the threatened hard Brexit.
“Unite will fight for access to the single market all the way. To do anything less is to turn our backs on hundreds of thousands of UK workers, which is unthinkable.
“Our members have worked tirelessly to turn this industry around, to make it a badge of pride for this country. I will not accept that their futures and the future of this great industry will be thrown into doubt because the hard right of the Tory party and Ukip are ideologically opposed to the single market.”
For further information contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.