Britain’s biggest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, has launched a blistering attack on Theresa May’s Brexit plans, saying “tens of thousands” of jobs in the car industry could be lost if the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal.
Ralf Speth, the company’s chief executive, told the prime minister that he could not say for certain that any of the automative giant’s manufacturing plants in Britain, which employ 40,000 people, could continue to operate after Brexit day.
As May prepared to take to the stage herself, he told a major Birmingham car industry summit that the firm, one of the country’s biggest exporters by value, would not be able to continue making cars if the motorways to and from Dover became a car park.
In a stark warning to the government as it entered the final round of Brexit negotiations with Brussels, he said that friction at the border could put production in jeopardy at a cost of £60m a day.
Speth showed how the current uncertainty was affecting his business saying: “Brexit is due to happen on march 29th next year. Currently I do not even know if any of our manufacturing facilities in the uk will be able to function on the 30th jobs have been shed when they should have been created. A thousand lost as a result of diesel policy. And those numbers will be counted in the tens of thousands if we do not get right Brexit deal”
In an ominous passage, he said that it was cheaper to make cars in Slovakia than it currently was in Britain. He added: “What decisions will we be forced to make, if Brexit means not merely that costs go up, but that we cannot physically build cars on time and on budget in the UK?”
He warned: “Six months from Brexit and uncertainty means that many companies are being forced to make decisions about their businesses that will not be reversed, whatever the outcome, just to survive.”
Under current estimates a hard Brexit would cost the company £1.2bn a year.