News Brexit warning for leaders of industry
SHADOW Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has warned the “huge success” in manufacturing in Coventry and Warwickshire – particularly in the automotive sector – can only continue if a customs union is maintained when Britain leaves the EU.
Mr Starmer visited automotive manufacturer Brose in Exhall, before travelling on to WMG at the University of Warwick to meet Jaguar Land Rover bosses and other industry leaders.
The Labour MP was taken on a tour of the Brose factory in Colliery Lane, which makes seat structures for Jaguar Land Rover and which has seen £70m of investment over the last five years and the creation of 700 jobs.
Brose currently employs almost 1,000 people at its two factories in Exhall and Coventry.
He said: “Visits like this are really helpful in helping us all understand the challenges of modern manufacturing and in particular the impact of Brexit on sectors like this.
“There is obviously a level of concern.
“What you have got here is huge success in manufacturing, which is absolutely dependent on parts coming in just in time, crossing borders and at the other end getting cars out across the UK and the EU.
“The concern is about the fact that without maintaining the customs agreements we have now, you introduce cost and delay and that is cost and delay this sector cannot afford.
“That is why we have been so insistent there has got to be a UK/EU customs union – precisely to protect these sorts of manufacturing processes.”
Asked whether he felt there was public support for a customs union Mr Starmer said: “The focus is on the need for a customs union and more and more people are appreciating the huge risk to our manufacturing sector if we don’t have a customs union with the EU.
“It is deeply regrettable that the Government does not have a proposal for a customs union.
“It is still arguing about two customs options, neither of which are acceptable to the EU and neither of which will solve the problems we have been talking about today.”
Mr Starmer added: “The Government needs to change its tune and needs to prove itself to the manufacturing sector about tariffs and the borders.
“All businesses are asking for is to be able to succeed in what they have been succeeding at in the past.
“This is not a political point it is about how you run a modern manufacturing sector in the UK.
“The best approach to customs arrangements would be to say let’s look at what works and let’s build on that and that is why we say a customs union has got to be part of future arrangements.”
With Coventry being one of the UK city’s strongly in favour of Brexit, Mr Starmer said he accepted the will of the people and that there was no disputing the result of the referendum.