London: One of the key players of Britain’s automotive industry, who only last month announced the closure of its flagship UK plant, called for “a clear, legally certain, path forward to avoid” a no-deal Brexit.
“We are now looking to the government to deliver a clear, legally certain, path forward to avoid no deal and to reach an agreement with the EU that delivers the conditions that support the continued competitiveness of our European operations,” a spokesman for the Japanese car manufacturer Honda said.
British lawmakers have backed the extension of Article 50 in a 412 to 202 vote on 14 March.
The motion sets out two options for the extension — a short delay that stipulates that a new Brexit deal will be approved of by parliament by 20 March or a longer delay if no agreement is reached by that date.
“Any extension of Article 50 must be purposeful and long enough to give business stability,” Honda spokesperson said.
Another giant in car manufacturing, German company BMW, also reacted to the most recent House of Commons vote, saying it is continuing to prepare for a “worst-case scenario” no-deal Brexit.
“As a responsible employer, we must therefore continue to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is what a no-deal Brexit would represent. In order to prepare for a postponement of Brexit, the BMW Group is currently examining various scenarios. Preparations cover all key areas of our business including manufacturing, sales… customs processes, IT and logistics,” a BMW spokesman said.
Earlier in February, Honda announced it was shutting its UK plant in Swindon in 2021, which would see 3,500 workers left jobless. Even though the company said the decision was not prompted by Brexit, the festering uncertainty among UK businesses in the light of poorly progressing Brexit negotiations was identified as one of the causes.
Similarly, BMW said it would consider moving some production out of the UK, if Westminster fails to secure an orderly departure from the EU.
Car manufacturing delivers an annual multi-billion contribution to the UK economy, supporting some 800,000 jobs in the UK. BMW’s Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda account for around 55 per cent of UK car output. In case of any disruption caused by hard Brexit, they plan to close their factories for a week to up to a month in April.