London – The UK car industry has repeated its call for the country to remain in the European Union (EU), arguing that to leave would jeopardise the sector’s success.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was restating its views, initially outlined after it polled members before the referendum campaigns got underway, “to ensure there is absolute clarity on the sector’s position”, given what it called “recent misrepresentations” in the Europe debate.
Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the UK automotive sector was “globally competitive, securing record levels of investment, creating tens of thousands of jobs annually and exporting to more than 100 countries.
“We want this success to continue, rather than jeopardise it by increasing costs, making our trading relationships uncertain and creating new barriers to our single biggest and most important market, Europe."
Remaining, Hawes said, “will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sectors depends”.
The SMMT drummed up support for its stance from the bosses of a number of leading car manufacturers, including Vauxhall, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover, whose chief financial officer Ken Gregor said that staying in the EU would boost his firm’s chances of growth.
However, John Longworth, the former head of the British Chambers of Commerce and chairman of the Vote Leave campaign’s Industrial committee, said the EU was a “political project with an economic project tacked onto the side”, and he was confident the UK’s automotive sector would continue to thrive outside the EU.
Longworth told the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4 that countries like Germany would continue to export cars to the UK because it was in their interest to do so.