A hard Brexit would cost Jaguar Land Rover £1.2billion a year curtailing its future operations in the UK, the British carmaker’s chief executive warned yesterday.
Dr Ralph Speth has called on the government to urgently provide certainty for business, such as guaranteed tariff-free access and frictionless trade with the European Union.
He spoke out ahead of the publication of a White Paper outlining the UK Government’s proposed post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.
The 62-year-old said: ‘Jaguar Land Rover’s heart and soul is in the UK.
Dr Ralf Speth, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, pictured, has warned the government, Brexit could end up costing the firm £1.2bn a year impacting on jobs and investment
He said that for more than 250 years, Britain has championed free markets and free trade and warned there are 300,000 jobs in Jaguar Land Rover and the supply train that will be hit by Brexit if there are changes to customs free access to trade and talent and EU regulations
‘However we, and our partners in the supply chain, face an unpredictable future if the Brexit negotiations do not maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU and unrestricted access to the single market.
‘We urgently need greater certainty to continue to invest heavily in the UK and safeguard our suppliers, customers and 40,000 British-based employees.
‘A bad Brexit deal would cost Jaguar Land Rover more than £1.2bn profit each year.
‘As a result, we would have to drastically adjust our spending profile; we have spent around £50bn in the UK in the past five years – with plans for a further £80bn more in the next five.
‘This would be in jeopardy should we be faced with the wrong outcome.
‘For more than 250 years, since the era of Adam Smith, Britain has championed free markets and made the case for free trade.
‘If the UK automotive industry is to remain globally competitive and protect 300,000 jobs in Jaguar Land Rover and our supply chain, we must retain tariff and customs-free access to trade and talent with no change to current EU regulations.
‘Electrification and connectivity offer significant economic and productivity opportunities – get Brexit wrong and British people, businesses and broader society lose the chance to lead in smart mobility.’ Mr Speth said JLR would only move if this were the only option ‘to save the company”.
He said: ‘If I’m forced to go out because we don’t have the right deal, then we have to close plants here in the UK and it will be very, very sad. This is hypothetical, and I hope it’s an option we never have to go for.’ JLR employs 40,000 people in the UK and exports £18billion of goods a year.
Recent weeks have seen criticism of the government by some of the other leading companies operating in Britain.
Airbus, Siemens and BMW last week went public with their fears about what leaving the EU customs union and single market would mean for their business.
Last month JLR announced it is to shift all production of the Land Rover Discovery from Birmingham to Slovakia, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
The company said the switch will take place early next year and that agency workers are most under threat of losing their jobs.
Two years ago the firm, owned by India’s Tata Motors, insisted that its new Slovakia plant would ‘complement’ its UK operations, with the Discovery built in both locations.
It also said all its Discovery off road vehicles will be made in the Eastern European nation.