BIRMINGHAM, England — The wrong Brexit deal could cost tens of thousands of jobs, the boss of Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover warned on Tuesday, saying he had no idea whether his plants would be able to operate after Britain leaves the European Union next year.
Ralf Speth also said that the company would not be able to build cars if customs checks meant that the motorway to and from the southern English port of Dover, which is used to transport components, becomes a “car park” due to snarl-ups of people no longer able to move freely among EU countries.
Speth made the warning at a conference in Birmingham, central England, speaking shortly before Prime Minister Theresa May, who is battling to have her so-called Chequers Brexit plan accepted by many in her Conservative Party as well as the EU ahead of Britain’s departure from the bloc on March 29.
“A thousand (jobs were) lost as a result of diesel policy, and those numbers will be counted in the tens of thousands if we do not get the right Brexit deal,” warned Speth, referring to redundancies made earlier this year at the firm.
“Currently I do not even know if any of our manufacturing facilities in the UK will be able to function on the 30th,” he said.
The boss of JLR, which built nearly a third of Britain’s cars last year, also said long-standing issues around low productivity in Britain could be compounded by a Brexit agreement which made the country less competitive.
“It is thousands of pounds cheaper to produce vehicles for instance in Eastern Europe than in Solihull, and what decisions will I be forced to make if Brexit means not merely that costs go up but that we cannot physically build cars on time and on budget in the UK?” he said.
Reporting by Costas Pitas