Article Source: IMechE

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has called for swifter progress on Brexit and a deal that includes custom union membership and single-market benefits as a minimum.

Uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the EU is “thwarting” investment, the organisation claimed, threatening the sector.

The call came after the society released its annual sustainability report, showing a record £82bn turnover in 2017, with a workforce of 186,000. Falling production, job cuts and stalling investment have marred the start of 2018, however. Just £347m is reportedly earmarked for new models, equipment and facilities – less than half the sum announced in the same period last year.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “There is growing frustration in global boardrooms at the slow pace of negotiations. The current position, with conflicting messages and red lines, goes directly against the interests of the UK automotive sector.”

He added: “There is no credible ‘plan B’ for frictionless customs arrangements, nor is it realistic to expect that new trade deals can be agreed with the rest of the world that will replicate the immense value of trade with the EU. Government must rethink its position on the customs union.”

The news follows a warning from European aerospace giant Airbus, which last week said it may be forced to leave the UK in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

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