Unite, Britain’s largest union, echoed the conclusions of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee’s report The impact of Brexit on the automotive sector, which found that a ‘hard’ Brexit would be devastating for the industry.
The committee’s findings which are in line with Unite’s research concluded that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would put hundreds of thousands of UK jobs at risk and threaten hundreds of millions of pounds of inward investment.
The report further found that non-tariff barriers in the form of increased bureaucracy and border delays will dramatically affect the UK’s competitiveness.
Just a minute’s delay at UK’s borders would have severe effects on the automotive supply chain. Every day there are 1,100 lorries with automotive parts that arrive from the European Union. Many automotive companies operate a just-in-time operation with assembly sites storing just 20 minutes of materials.
Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “This report is a welcome acknowledgment of Unite’s long-held position that a ‘hard’ Brexit would be a mortal blow for the UK’s automotive industry.
“It is absolutely essential for the well-being of the car industry that the UK retains tariff free access after it leaves the European Union. The only sensible way of achieving this is for the government to negotiate a customs union.
“The car industry would be hugely affected by a ‘hard’ Brexit but there should not be a specific deal just for this sector. It is essential that all the UK’s manufacturing base is protected by future barrier free access.
“It is also essential to protect the UK’s car industry that regulatory alignment remains as close to that as the EU as possible.”
“The government must act on this report’s findings, rather than trying to ignore reality. If it cannot negotiate a deal, which defends hundreds of thousands of highly skilled manufacturing jobs, then it must step aside for a Labour government which will.”