Business Minister warns Jaguar and Mini could be forced to close in event of no-deal Brexit
Major car firms Jaguar and Mini could be forced to close in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a business minister warned today.
Richard Harrington said it was "fanciful nonsense" to claim that British businesses could thrive on World Trade Organisation terms as he warned that quitting the EU without an agreement in place would be an “absolute disaster”.
The Tory minister said he was not prepared to “sell business down the river” as he urged the Prime Minister to rule out a no-deal and implored MPs to back the agreement she clinched with Brussels.
Mrs May is expected to lay out her Brexit plan B today after her deal was overwhelmingly crushed in the Commons. If nothing is in place by the exit date of 29 March the UK will crash out of the bloc on WTO terms.
Anti-EU MPs in the Conservative party have argued the UK will thrive without a Brexit deal, but Mr Harrington said they were a "minority of a minority" and warned this morning: "Crashing out, in my view… is an absolute disaster."
He told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “[Theresa May] should, in my view, say: 'We are responsible people, we are going to do our duty to business and we are going to rule out a no-deal, because we want a great deal’.”
The Tory MP, who previously threated to resign from the Government if it pushes ahead with a no-deal, warned that several industries could be forced to close if new trade restrictions are imposed after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.
“I’m not afraid of no drugs etc, but I am afraid of Jaguar closing, Mini closing, the life sciences industry closing and all the other things because we’d have no agreement which represents the way these businesses are integrated today,” he said.
“It is a responsibility and we’ve got to stop it. The Prime Minister, who I am a great supporter of, should say: ‘This is the time for members of parliament to do what they were elected for.’ And the vast majority reject this no-deal nonsense and that is what we should do.”
Earlier this month, Jaguar Land Rover announced it was cutting 4,500 jobs amid growing global pressures, including the uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Mr Harrington added: “It is friction. Having been to these factories, there are convoys of lorries every day with parts coming in all the time, coming in and going out. Ford in Bridgend alone are responsible for 40 million transactions. We can’t suddenly say that it's WTO and we don’t have an agreement with regulations. This is fanciful nonsense and it must stop.
“The WTO is a last-resort position. It has always been that. It is not meant for trading between some of the most sophisticated and complicated economies in the world."