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NO ‘BREXIT DIVIDEND’ EXISTS, SAYS SMMT CHIEF

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NO ‘BREXIT DIVIDEND’ EXISTS, SAYS SMMT CHIEF


The Chief Executive of SMMT has spoken candidly about the issues facing the motor industry as Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union.

“Leaving is not what we wanted. For us, Brexit is about damage limitation. There is no ‘Brexit dividend’” Mike Hawes told an audience at the Society’s annual dinner on Tuesday night.

Pressing the need for parliament to pass the draft proposal bill, he said: We need a deal – now. And that deal must be ambitious for the future. We need frictionless trade with our most important market. Nothing less will do”.

Pressing home the message, he added. “This industry has always had political support – here and across the EU. Now, more than ever, we need that support. To avoid catastrophe; to give us breathing space, to deliver a competitive future. It’s time to decide”.

Business secretary Greg Clarke also addressed the room, and gave his support for the Prime Minister’s plans. “I remember being on the phone to Mike (Hawes)’s team for data on the way to Chequers and presenting it, and then on the phone to his team again the next morning to discuss what we agreed. It was central to the clear and unflinching objective that we set to secure frictionless trade on which this industry absolutely depends” he said.   

 

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SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT

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SMMT PRESIDENT: ‘CONCRETE PROGRESS’ NEEDED ON BREXIT


The 101st SMMT dinner was interrupted before it had even started by Greenpeace protesters who managed to get on stage with a ‘Toxic Air award’ for VW. It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a politically charged event.

Mike Hawes, Tony Walker and Jennifer Saunders at SMMT Dinner 2017

Greenpeace invaded SMMT Dinner to present VW with ‘Toxic Air Award’.

Tony Walker delivered speech about the need for ‘concrete progress’ on Brexit

 

Following an introduction by Jennifer Saunders, SMMT Chief Exec, Mike Hawes took to the stage to talk about what he saw as the dangers of ‘demonising’ diesel. “Customers are not moving straight from diesel to electric. They are switching to petrol or are staying put in their older cars” he said, adding that the decision in the budget to increase tax on diesel cars leads to a falling market and a, conversely, rise in CO2 emissions. “This is not a policy without consequences. It has to stop” he said.

Business Minister, Greg Clark made a speech in which he acknowledged that the car industry was of ‘fundamental importance to the British economy’. He added that there was an industrial strategy in place, which ‘in many ways’ had been inspired by the motor industry.  

However, SMMT President Tony Walker warned of the dangers of a no-deal situation and a 10 percent tariff on exports. “Competitiveness comes hard-won. It can be easily lost” he said. “A hard Brexit would undermine all that we have collectively achieved. It is a real threat – a hurdle we cannot ignore.” He acknowledged that it was Government policy ’not to fall over a cliff edge’ but there needed to be evidence of ‘concrete progress – and quickly’.

Walker expanded that falling consumer confidence, uncertainty about Brexit and market confusion over diesel have taken their toll on sales domestically, and that the threat of trade barriers was putting the ‘export-led renaissance’  of the UK’s manufacturing base. “Our supply chains are integrated with Europe and well developed over time” he said. “We cannot disrupt them…We do not need trade barriers to be our next challenge”.

 

 

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