With Oxford’s MINI plant shut from April 1-29 in anticipation of Brexit – and the closure continuing despite the latest deadline from the EU now being set as October 31, car manufacturers are furious with the Government.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said it was ‘utterly unacceptable’ that the industry still did not know what the future relationship between the Uk and EU would be.
With the MINI plant – Oxford’s biggest employer – going through a ‘maintenance closure’, timed to coincide with the original Brexit deadline of March 29, the SMMT hit out at the uncertainty.
Hawes said: “While we’ve avoided a ‘no deal’ Brexit on Friday, it is utterly unacceptable that, more than two years since negotiations started, industry still does not know what the UK’s relationship with the EU will be in the coming weeks and months.
“Uncertainty has already caused serious damage – car plants are on enforced shutdown, investment has been cut and jobs lost. This cannot go on. Government and Parliament must use this extension purposefully to take ‘no deal’ off the table for good, and guarantee a positive long-term resolution that delivers frictionless trade. If they fail, we face yet another devastating ‘no-deal’ precipice on October 31.”
Jaguar Land Rover has also shut its factories for five days. The shutdowns were designed to get round the predicted customs delays and other problems that were anticipated in the first days after leaving the EU.
The SMMT is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.