UK min­is­ter op­ti­mistic of Brexit deal af­ter Toy­ota threat­ens to exit

Business Standard - - WORLD - MICHAEL HOLDEN

Bri­tish Busi­ness Sec­re­tary Greg Clark said on Satur­day there were grounds for op­ti­mism that Bri­tain would strike a Brexit deal with the Euro­pean Union, af­ter Ja­panese car­maker Toy­ota warned that leav­ing with­out an agree­ment would hit its out­put.

Just six months be­fore Bri­tain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has said talks to clinch a di­vorce deal are at an im­passe.

She has said her "Che­quers" pro­pos­als are the only vi­able op­tion, but EU lead­ers have said key parts of them are un­ac­cept­able and many law­mak­ers in her own Con­ser­va­tive Party have threat­ened to vote down a deal based on May's blueprint.

The un­cer­tainty has led to con­cerns that Bri­tain will leave with­out a deal which busi­nesses, par­tic­u­larly car­mak­ers, have said would be hugely dam­ag­ing.

"Of course we want a deal," Busi­ness Sec­re­tary Greg Clark told BBC ra­dio. "No one should be un­der any il­lu­sion that the prime min­is­ter and our ne­go­ti­at­ing team are ab­so­lutely de­ter­mined...

"There are grounds for op­ti­mism that we can reach an agree­ment on this," he said.

Clark was re­spond­ing to com­ments from the boss of Toy­ota's plant in cen­tral Eng­land, who told the BBC a no-deal Brexit would hit pro­duc­tion.

It is the lat­est in a se­ries of warn­ings from car­mak­ers that any de­lays at borders could slow the move­ment of com­po­nents and fin­ished models, adding costs and crip­pling out­put.

"If we crash out of the EU at the end of March the sup­ply chain will be im­pacted and we will see pro­duc­tion stops in our fac­tory," said Marvin Cooke, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Toy­ota's Bur­nas­ton plant, which pro­duced 144,000 models last year.

Ear­lier this week other car­mak­ers in Bri­tain in­clud­ing BMW, McLaren and Honda said they had trig­gered some Brexit con­tin­gency plans, such as cer­ti­fy­ing models in the EU, and were work­ing on re­draw­ing pro­duc­tion sched­ules and stock­pil­ing more parts.

The moves aim to en­sur­ing plants, which rely on the just-in-time de­liv­ery of tens of thou­sands of com­po­nents, can keep op­er­at­ing af­ter Brexit, but will add costs and bu­reau­cracy which could risk their long-term vi­a­bil­ity.

Jaguar Land Rover, Bri­tain's big­gest car­maker, has warned it does not know whether its plants will be able to op­er­ate in six months' time and that the wrong Brexit deal could cost thou­sands of car jobs.

Other car­mak­ers in Bri­tain in­clud­ing BMW, McLaren and Honda said they had trig­gered some Brexit con­tin­gency plans, such as cer­ti­fy­ing models in the EU

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