LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should delay Brexit beyond Oct. 31 rather than leave the European Union without a deal which is a particular threat to large automakers, the head of the sector’s industry body told Reuters on Friday.
As the United Kingdom spins toward an election, Brexit remains up in the air more than three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc in a 2016 referendum. Options range from a turbulent ‘no-deal’ exit to abandoning the whole endeavor.
The autos sector, the country’s biggest exporter of goods, has been one of the most vocal opponents of a no-deal Brexit, warning that production would be hit with tariffs, border delays and new bureaucracy, ruining the viability of many plants.
“Leaving without a deal would be the worst outcome,” the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers of Traders (SMMT) Mike Hawes told Reuters.
“If it takes an extra couple of months to get that deal, I think the industry would put up with that,” he said.
Figures published by the SMMT in July showed investment in Britain’s car sector fell by more than 70 percent in the first half of the year to 90 million pounds ($111 million), although a major investment by Jaguar Land Rover will boost the full-year figure.
“Investment in the UK has effectively stopped,” said Hawes.
“It has, because they (investors) fear no-deal. That will make it very, very difficult to continue to have the certainty and confidence to invest in the UK.”
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge