ELECTRIC MINI BUILT IN UK
Huge boost for Brexit Britain as BMW defies Remoaners with car plant pledge on day of economic good news
BMW delivered a vote of confidence in post-Brexit Britain yesterday as it pledged to build the electric Mini here.
Having previously warned it could move production to the Netherlands, the German car giant revealed the next generation of the car will be assembled at its historic home in Cowley, Oxford.
The first fully electric Mini E will roll off the production line in 2019, just as Britain cuts ties with the EU.
The electric drivetrain – the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels - will be built in Germany, before being shipped to the UK.
Bosses at BMW had told shareholders that the electric Mini could be manufactured at its smaller plant in the Netherlands, as they ratcheted up pressure on ministers to thrash out a favourable deal for the car industry in Brexit negotiations.
There had also been mounting speculation that the firm would build a plant in Germany.
But yesterday BMW became the latest international carmaker to back Britain, with Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota all revealing plans to ramp up production and invest in their UK car plants.
It also became the latest manufacturer to outline plans to boost production of electric cars. BMW said it would be able to offer a fully electric version of any new model of BMW or Mini launched from 2020, if there was enough demand.
Tory MPs last night described the firm’s decision as a ‘clear endorsement’ of British car manufacturing, its workforce and its long term economic prospects.
It is also a boost to the 4,500 workers who churn out around 1,000 Minis a day at the 100-acre plant. BMW employs 24,000 staff in the UK, from the factory floor to its dealerships, including the Rolls-Royce factory in Sussex, and other plants in Birmingham and Swindon.
Business secretary Greg Clark, who is said to have met BMW board member Ian Robertson four times this year, said: ‘This landmark decision is a vote of confidence in the determination of our industrial strategy to make Britain the go-to place in
‘An attractive place to invest’
the world for the next generation of vehicles.
‘BMW’s decision recognises the strength of the excellent workforce, our record of innovation and the productive relationship between the automotive sector and the Government. The automotive industry is a great British success story and the Mini is a big part of that.’
BMW’s move comes after a string of dire warnings from the car industry about the damage from Brexit.
The motor trade body the SMMT has described leaving the EU without a free trade deal as the biggest ‘threat to the car industry for a generation’, amid fears that hefty tariffs will be imposed. Car makers have warned that the prospect of tariffs could push up the cost of manufacturing, forcing them to increase their prices.
With 80 per cent of the 1.7million cars built in the UK exported – mainly to the EU – some are worried that plants in the UK will no longer be able to compete.
Last night pro-Brexit MPs and City experts said common sense
had prevailed. Sir Bill Cash, Tory MP for Stone, said: ‘ The doomsayers and the prophets of fear are being given a lesson in practical common sense. This is an extremely important endorsement of the British workforce, and British car making.’
Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal and a supporter of the Change Britain campaign group, said: ‘The fact that this iconic car will be built in Britain is a huge vote of confidence in the UK economy and great news for British jobs.
‘This is yet further evidence that Britain remains an attractive place to invest, with companies looking to develop the technologies of tomorrow here in the UK today.’
David Buik, a veteran City commentator who works for stockbroker Panmure Gordon, said: ‘We’re the second largest car assembly country in Europe for good reason. There is absolutely no need to move production elsewhere as we have the innovation, skills, driver and zest to take on all comers.’
BMW said that it was committed to selling 100,000 electrified vehicles – hybrids or electric cars – this year, as many as it has sold in total since production started four years ago.
EVERY day brings new scare stories about the dire effects of Brexit — from a staffing crisis in the NHS to a shortage of take-away pizzas. Yesterday alone there were more than a half a dozen — ranging from many fewer budget airline flights to increased costs of raw materials for sausages. Here, ROSS CLARK sorts the truth from the myths... BREXIT WILL HIT CANCER PATIENTS
NICOLA STRICKLAND, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, says that leaving Euratom — the European Atomic Energy Community, which has shared research into nuclear energy since 1957 — could affect the transport of radioactive materials used in cancer treatment.
She said she was ‘seriously concerned’ about UK hospitals keeping continued access to material used in scans and tests. ‘Restricted access has the potential to delay diagnosing and treating cancer in thousands of patients,’ she said.
London’s Evening Standard, edited by EU-cheerleader George Osborne, carried a front page headline which read: CANCER PATIENTS IN BREXIT SCARE. REALITY:
Steve Baker, minister in the Department for Exiting the EU, says the Government’s legal advice is that Euratom regulates the distribution of fissile material used in nuclear energy, not radioactive isotopes used in cancer treatment. This was confirmed by a professor of law on Radio 4’s Today.
Norway isn’t a member of the EU yet hospitals easily obtain the resources they need.
Nor will leaving Euratom end co- operation over nuclear matters: 16 non-EU countries, including Turkey and Israel, have associate membership of Horizon 2020, a pan-European programme for co-ordinating scientific research.
WHISKY FIRMS WILL SUFFER
KAREN BETTS, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, says 90 per cent of Scotch is exported and so it relies on open markets and free trade. While opposing the Scottish government’s move to set a minimum price for alcohol as part of a public health policy, she said: ‘This risk to how we are able to trade internationally is now compounded by the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.’ REALITY:
Minimum pricing is an initiative by Nicola Sturgeon’s administration and has nothing to do with the EU. There is no reason to assume that Brexit will reduce world demand for whisky exports. In fact, 69 per cent of Scotland’s £4 billion a year whisky exports go to countries outside the EU, with 26 per cent to the U.S. — with whom the Government began trade talks this week.
BREXIT WILL KILL DOLPHINS
DANNY GROvES, of the charity Whale & Dolphin Conservation, says thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales die in fishing gear every year in UK seas. ‘Most of the protection they have comes from the EU,’ he says, ‘but after Brexit they won’t even have that. What then?’ REALITY:
The EU has a poor record for preventing dolphins, porpoises and whales from being caught in fishing nets. The Whale & Dolphin Conservation’s own figures show that in 2015, 1,200-1,500 porpoises and 240 common dolphins were trapped in nets.
To help, the British have taken the initiative. In 2004, our government tried to reduce these numbers by banning domestic vessels from using a technique known as ‘pelagic pair trawling’ for sea bass within 12 miles of our coast.
It asked that the ban might be extended to all EU fishing vessels — but Brussels refused.
Once we leave the EU, foreign vessels can be banned from trawling in British waters.
NO ONE WILL PICK OUR STRAWBERRIES
NEW Lib Dem leader vince Cable claimed at the start of the Wimbledon tennis championships that ‘ people who normally produce the strawberries can’t do so because the labour force has disappeared because of anxiety about their future status in Britain’. REALITY:
Officials at Wimbledon denied any problem and the British soft fruit industry has never been healthier. At the end of May, British Summer Fruits, the growers’ trade body, predicted that production of soft fruit this year would be up 6 per cent on last year, when 126,000 tonnes, or £580 million-worth, of Britishgrown fruit was sold. There is no reason why Brexit should make any difference.
Ministers have indicated that a seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme will help soft fruitgrowers hire who they want from outside Europe. It would allow tens of thousands of people to work here for less than six months.
THERE’LL BE A NURSING CRISIS
ACCORDING to the Health Foundation, an independent charity, the number of nurses registering to work in the NHS has plummeted by 96 per cent since the Referendum, exacerbating a chronic shortage.
The Royal College of Paediatrics And Child Health claims Brexit will hit the profession because 40 per cent of staff began their training overseas.
Yesterday, under the front page headline ‘BREXIT FEARS OF NHS STAFF CRISIS’, the London Evening Standard reported the chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, warning of a Brexit ‘threat’ to crucial staffing in the NHS and in care homes. REALITY:
Nurses from other EU countries make up 4 per cent of the NHS nursing work- force — a small, albeit significant proportion. Twice as many NHS nurses come from non-EU countries.
While there has been a big fall in the number of nurses from fellow EU countries registering here over the past year, the peak month, when 1,304 registered, was last July, after the Referendum.
The head of a nursing agency told the Nursing Times that the fall had less to do with Brexit than with new English language tests which came into effect last year. The agency saw no drop-off in applications — simply that many nurses were failing the language test.
As for paediatricians, our EU membership hasn’t prevented a growing list of 200 unfilled vacancies. This is partly due to the fact the profession is very female-dominated, and many have left to begin families.
Brexit won’t mean the NHS cannot recruit from abroad — only that it will be our government, not Brussels, which will decide immigration policy.
HOUSE PRICES COULD CRASH
PAUL CHESHIRE, Professor of Economic Geography at the LSE, says house prices could crash by 40 per cent. His colleague Christian Hilber explains: ‘If Brexit leads to a recession and/ or sluggish growth for extended periods, then an extended and severe downturn is more likely than a short-lived and mild one.’ REALITY:
Despite grim predictions before the Brexit vote that house prices would plummet (the Treasury foresaw a crash of 18 per cent), house values in the past 12 months have been broadly steady, rising by 2.6 per cent, according to the Halifax.
Of course, prices could fall in future, but it is hard to see why Brexit should cause a drop. More likely, any fall would be the result of too many people over-borrowing, as happened in the early 1990s and again in 2008. There is also the factor of increases in stamp duty and higher taxes on landlords introduced by then Chancellor George Osborne.
A ‘FULL ENGLISH’ WILL COST MORE
ACCORDING to accountants KPMG, tariffs on goods imported from the EU postBrexit could add 12 per cent to the cost of ingredients of a full English breakfast, with a litre of orange juice imported from
Spain rising by 34 per cent (from 79p to 93p) and a 300g pack of Danish bacon going up from £2 to £2.18. This would mean the cost of breakfast for a typical family could rise £3 to £26.61.
Meanwhile, the Food And Drink Federation says the £28 billion British food and drinks sector would take a major hit from the introduction of trade tariffs. Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King warned shoppers that they’ll see ‘prices, quality and choice’ impacted by the Brexit vote.
Ignoring, for a moment, that a traditional ‘Full English’ does not include Danish bacon or Spanish orange juice, the claim is based on the assumption that Britain will leave the EU without a trade deal and that food importers will have to pay tariffs on goods bought from other EU countries.
In truth, there is every likelihood that Britain will negotiate a trade deal with the EU — given that it will be to the mutual benefit of Britain and the 27 EU countries.
In any case, all the ingredients of a full English breakfast, except baked beans, are grown in the UK.
Crucially, once we leave the EU we won’t have to charge the high tariffs that Brussels forces us to charge on food imports from outside the EU — which means that food prices are more likely to fall.
PRODUCT SIZES (NOT PRICES!) WILL SHRINK
YESTErDAY, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that food manufacturers have reduced the size (but not the price) of a host of products — a phenomenon described as ‘shrinkflation’.
Items include Doritos, Peperami and Coco Pops. Toblerone bars are 10 per cent smaller and M&M packets have also reduced in size.
In many cases, manufacturers have blamed the Brexit-linked slump in sterling for increasing the price of imported ingredients — and they have therefore looked for ways to recover their extra costs.
Shrinkflation has been going on for years. The ONS recorded 2,529 examples over the past five years. If anything, Brexit should reduce the cost of products such as chocolate in the UK. At present, processed chocolate from outside the EU is subject to high tariffs — which we can axe once we leave the EU.
BUTTERFLIES AND BIRDS WILL VANISH
ACCOrDINg to David Nussbaum, chief executive of British arm of the World Wildlife Fund, and to the royal Society For The Protection Of Birds, ‘leaving the EU would bring great uncertainties, putting much of what has been achieved at risk’ in terms of conservation.
Butterfly and bee protection groups, too, worry that they cannot do their work as well without the benefits of EU schemes.
Understandably, these organisations stress that the EU has played a key role for decades in setting common standards across a wide range of environmental issues, from pollution control to habitat protection.
Yet, the fact is that Britain has often led the way in protecting the environment. The WWF, for example, was founded in 1961 by two Britons — evolutionary biologist Sir Julian Huxley and Edward Max Nicholson.
People may be divided over Brexit, but the British are united by a love of wildlife, thus there remains a strong consensus that environmental standards must be maintained. Crucially, Environment Secretary Michael gove says he has ‘no intention’ of weakening environmental protections instituted by the EU, and he believes Britain is ‘more than capable’ of making its own environment protection laws.
COD AND CHIPS WILL BE IN SHORT SUPPLY
ACCOrDINg to Samuel Stone, head of fisheries and agriculture at the Marine Conservation Society, leaving the EU could lead to a reversal of successful efforts over the past few years to promote the recovery of cod stocks.
‘Exiting may end up with international disputes and fish being overfished as a result,’ he says.
EU rules are to blame for North Sea cod stocks being brought to the point of collapse in the first place. In 1972, when Edward Heath signed away fish stocks in British waters as a ‘common resource’ for European fishermen, cod hauls peaked at 270,000 tonnes a year. By 2006, they had fallen to 44,000 tonnes.
Over the past decade, they’ve bounced back to 149,000 tonnes, largely thanks to practices adopted by British fishermen, including the use of fishing gear that does not catch immature cod and the closure of areas of sea in the spawn- ing season. After Brexit, we’ll be able to ban foreign trawlers from UK waters — thereby taking pressure off fish stocks.
Significantly, the respected environmentalist Charles Clover, of the Blue Marine Foundation, says the ‘astounding recovery’ of North Sea cod ‘was not a victory for the EU’. He says: ‘We should thank a British initiative that went beyond the EU’s flawed recovery plan.’
HARD CHEESE! CHEDDAR WILL DISAPPEAR
ONE-THIrD of Cheddar consumed in Britain comes from Ireland, where, according to Conor Mulvihill, of the Irish Dairy Industries Association, cheese-makers are considering switching to Mozzarella as they fear tariffs being imposed on exports to Britain.
This scare story, like so many others, presumes that Britain will make a messy exit from the EU, heralding a trade war — yet negotiators on both sides have every incentive to do a trade deal.
But if Irish cheese-makers decide to stop making Cheddar, British cheese-makers would quickly fill the gap. Also, we would buy more from Australia and New Zealand, whose food imports are currently subject to tariffs — which most likely will be reduced after Brexit.
SCHOOLCHILDREN WILL HAVE IT TOUGH
ACCOrDINg to Chris Keates, of the teachers union NASUWT: ‘Immigration, border control and restricting freedom of movement have serious implications for public services, including schools and colleges.’ Also, she says any loss of workers’ rights could lead to fewer people entering the profession.
There is no reason to say that leaving the EU will stop teachers being recruited from overseas. It simply means that immigration policy is made in Whitehall rather than Brussels.
A PIZZA WILL COST A PACKET
DAvID PAgE, chairman of the parent company of pizza chain Franco Manca, has warned that Brexit ‘is already affecting the availability of skilled European restaurant staff’. The referendum result hit Italian and greek chefs ‘hard emotionally’, he said, making them more difficult to recruit.
If hiring becomes more costly, then the price of pizzas could increase, he added.
The British Takeaway Campaign, a trade group funded by Just Eat, the online fast food order and delivery service, warns that onethird of takeaway owners fear it could be harder to recruit staff.
given that our High Streets have a disproportionate number of fast-food outlets —Franco Manca itself opened 33 in
the past year — it is hardly surprisingly that the chain has realised the supply of skilled pizza-makers is not infinite. But how difficult can it be to train someone to prepare fast food?
All workers already here from Italy and Greece will be allowed to stay under a deal already offered by Mrs May. Moreover, after Brexit, we will be in full control of immigration policy, so if there are staff shortages in some industries, the Government can issue work permits to foreigners as necessary.
FEWER BUDGET FLIGHTS FOR SALE
RyANAIR says it might move its 90 aircraft based here should Britain no longer be part of the Open Skies Agreement, which promotes travel and reduces government interference.
The airline says that if there is no certainty over such issues by autumn next year, it ‘may be forced to cancel flights and move some, or all, of our UK-based aircraft to continental Europe from April 2019 onwards’.
Planes are currently flown from EU countries to non- EU countries, so the idea that flights between Britain and the EU will cease is scaremongering. Ryanair’s threat is a bold one considering that 40million out of its 131million customers a year make a journey that either takes off or lands at a UK airport.
FOOD PRICES TO RISE AS STANDARDS FALL
A REPORT by Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, and other academics argues that leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will lead to food prices becoming as volatile as they were in the 1930s, and a fall in safety standards.
The CAP was designed for the interests of the farming lobby — especially in France — not for consumers, and has meant that food prices have been kept higher than they need to be.
When we leave the European Union, we can also lower tariffs on food imported from outside the EU, so UK consumers can have cheaper food.
As for food safety, current EU law will be incorporated into UK law post-Brexit, so there will be no drop in standards.
Don’t worry: From radioactive isotopes to strawberries, the things Brexit won’t hit
Upbeat: Minister Greg Clark
Going for a spin: The BMW Mini factory in Oxford