CBI chief: British car manufacturing faces ‘extinction’

British car manufacturing faces ‘extinction’ if Brexit means leaving a customs union with the EU, CBI chief warns

  • CBI chief Paul Drechsler said ‘extinction’ of some manufacturing was a ‘reality’
  • Outgoing President of the business group slammed political fighting on Brexit
  • He said business resources are being spent preparing for a ‘worst case Brexit’  

Paul Drechsler (file image), who is standing down from his role in the business organisation, said politicians are not focusing on the economics of Brexit

Britain’s car industry and other manufacturing face ‘extinction’ unless Britain remains in a customs union with the EU, the president of the CBI warned today.

Paul Drechsler, who is standing down from his role in the business organisation, said politicians are not focusing on the economics of Brexit. 

The warning comes just days after Jaguar-Land Rover announced it was moving some jobs to Slovakia, leaving hundreds of jobs in the west midlands at risk.

Other major manufacturing giants have issued warnings about the impact of Brexit on their future investment decisions – but few have so far actually changed course.

Mr Drechsler told the BBC: ‘There is a risk that the auto industry in the UK faces extinction if there’s no customs union after Brexit.

He added: ‘If we do not have a customs union there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.

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‘Be in no doubt, that is the reality.

‘The debate that’s going on across the country, in terms of politicians, it’s not about economics, it’s about politics.’

He added: ‘There’s zero evidence that independent trade deals will provide any economic benefit to the UK that’s material. It’s a myth.’

Mr Drechsler expressed concern that business resources are being diverted to prepare for a worst-case Brexit.

‘We already know tens of millions – in fact hundreds of millions – have been invested by UK pharmaceutical and finance companies to create continuity post a worst-case Brexit scenario. Tens of millions. What could we have done with that money?’

The warning comes just days after Jaguar-Land Rover announced it was moving some jobs to Slovakia, leaving hundreds of jobs in Solihull at risk (file image of the Land Rover factory in Solihull) 

The CBI president said there has been little clarity from ministers on Brexit.

‘We have a negotiation within the UK Government that’s gone on for nearly three years.

‘We still haven’t got clarity about the future direction, about where we’re heading, what will the future relationship with Europe be, at a level of detail that matters for investment.’

In other developments today a former Foreign Office minister and leader of an anti-Brexit campaign claimed Britain will be left a ‘mangy old lion’ by leaving the EU. 

Lord Malloch-Brown, who chairs the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, said that the UK’s loss of influence was exposed at last week’s G7 summit, where Theresa May was left a ‘spectator’ to a clash between the US, Canada and the EU.

Lord Malloch-Brown (file image), who chairs the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, said that the UK’s loss of influence was exposed at last week’s G7 summit

And he said Vladimir Putin’s Russia had identified the UK as Europe’s ‘weakest link’ to be targeted with fake news, political interference, dirty money and poison attacks.

In a speech in Oxford on Wednesday evening, Lord Malloch-Brown, a former United Nations deputy secretary general who served as foreign minister from 2007-09, will warn that Brexit has ‘ruined’ UK foreign policy, leaving the country ‘all at sea’.

He is due to say: ‘On foreign policy as on so much else, to stay and fight for a stronger Europe remains the only real path forward for a Britain confronted by a Europe and world in crisis.

‘Far from running away from Europe, we should remember the real lesson of our history. Our security and prosperity is bound up first and foremost with Europe.’

 

 

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