Carmakers fear being left in the slow lane in post Brexit Britain

Speaking at an international summit of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, its chief executive, Mike Hawes, warned the livelihoods of more than 800,000 workers directly employed in the UK across the automotive sector are at risk unless the government agrees a positive tariff-free, freedom of movement post-Brexit settlement with the European Union reports The Times.

“The industry faces challenges of economic instability and around costs, influence and the ease of doing business. We need a long-term industrial strategy and full, unrestricted and reciprocal access to the single market.

“We need to be able to shape EU regulations to protect and safeguard our unique and diverse industry and we need to have no barriers to employing skilled people from outside of the UK.

“We are in the premier league of the global automotive industry. We do not want the current uncertainties to relegate us to the second division.”

Mr Hawes was making his comments as the SMMT revealed new data that the UK automotive industry increased its annual turnover by 7.3 per cent last year to £71 billion during which 17,000 jobs were created, taking the total directly employed across the industry to 814,000.

He said free access to a European and global talent pool — for skilled production people and engineers and designers — is crucial as there are currently 5,000 unfilled vacancies across the manufacturers and their supply chain.

Business leaders from Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota at the conference insisted there was no immediate or even medium term threat of job losses in the industry which is dominated by the overseas manufacturers of Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover, the Japanese companies Nissan, Toyota and Honda, BMW of Germany which makes Mini and Rolls-Royce, US owned Vauxhall and Bentley, owned by Volkswagen of Germany.