One of the major car manufacturers in the country has warned it will consider pulling the plug on its British operations if the UK crashes out of Europe with no deal.
Ford’s Europe chairman Steven Armstrong has urged the UK parliament to do everything possible to get a deal guaranteeing frictionless trade “because otherwise we will have to consider seriously the long-term future of our investments in the country.”
Speaking at a motor industry event in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, he said a no-deal Brexit would be “a disaster for the automotive industry in the UK and within that, of course, I count Ford Motor Company.”
He added: “So anything that puts tariffs or friction at the borders in place would be a significant inhibitor to our business.
“We’ve been very clear in saying that could cost us up to a billion dollars a year.”
Mr Armstrong said the company, employing just under 13,000 people in the UK, had already spent tens of millions of dollars preparing for a no-deal Brexit, fearing congestion at ports and a slow down delivery of components and cars to and from Europe.
But he said the best case scenario for Ford would be if the money spent on these preparations was wasted because a deal was reached.
His comments came as a cross-party bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit was put forward to Parliament.
Ford is not the first car manufacturer in the UK to express grave concerns about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
Earlier this month both Toyota and BMW said leaving the European Union without a deal would threaten car production in the UK.
BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer told Sky news if a “worst case” no-deal scenario happened, “we would need to consider what it exactly means for us in the long run”.
“For Mini, this is really a danger,” he added.
While the head of Toyota’s European operations Johan van Zyl told the BBC if the Brexit “hurdles” are too high it would undermine Toyota’s competitiveness.
Just the month before Nissan had announced it had changed plans and would not be building a new car in the UK and Honda said it was closing its Swindon plant, although neither cited Brexit as the reason.
Parliament must urgently find a compromise that will deliver frictionless trade and remove the existential threat
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders CEO
Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, said: “While politicians argue, many car plants across the UK are on enforced shutdown as a reaction to the uncertainty.
“Global investors who previously looked on the UK as a model of stability are now looking elsewhere.
“Parliament must urgently find a compromise that will deliver frictionless trade and remove the existential threat to the industry because hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend on getting this right.”