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Car industry chiefs back Remain in EU poll

Published 20/06/2016

Mike Hawes said leaving the EU would
Mike Hawes said leaving the EU would "jeopardise" the industry's continued success

Ford's boss in the UK has written to the firm's 14,000 employees setting out why the motor giant backs remaining in the European Union.

The message from Andy Barratt, the c hairman and managing director of Ford of Britain, came as leading figures from the motor industry publicly backed a vote to Remain.

Senior managers at firms including BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Vauxhall set out the benefits to the industry of EU membership.

Mr Barratt told Ford's staff: " Our primary interest is in maintaining stability and avoiding uncertainty in the trading environment so we can continue to build an even stronger business and create a more secure future for our almost 14,000 employees in the UK and for our business in Europe.

"We believe the best way of achieving this is for the UK to remain a member of a reformed EU. The final decision is in the hands of the UK electorate - and how the UK public and our employees vote is entirely a matter for them."

The letter, jointly signed by Nick Rothwell, the boss of Ford Credit Europe, raised concerns about trading relationships and the "passporting" of financial services if the country votes for Brexit on June 23.

David Cameron, who visited the BMW plant in Oxfordshire which makes the Mini range, said access to Europe's single market was "vital" to the industry and the jobs it supports.

Jaguar Land Rover's chief financial officer, Ken Gregor, said a vote to Remain would increase the firm's chances to "grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies".

Toyota deputy managing director Tony Walker said EU membership is "best for our business and for our competitiveness in the longer term".

And Rory Harvey, managing director and chairman of Vauxhall, said: "We believe not to be part of the EU would be undesirable for our business and the sector as a whole."

Some 77% of the firms in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have backed a vote to Remain.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes warned that Brexit could "jeopardise" the industry.

The Prime Minister visited two firms involved in the supply chain for the Mini's doors before helping to assemble the finished product at the vast Cowley plant near Oxford.

After putting the finishing touches to a door on the assembly line, Mr Cameron used his tie to wipe away a smudge he had left on the bodywork.

The PM, who was joined on the visit by former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, said he had a "very simple message" that "access to the European single market is vital for jobs in our country".

Leave-supporting former British Chambers of Commerce director-general John Longworth told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "The auto industry is different from the rest of industry in the sense that it has a 10% tariff for cars from outside the EU.

"The biggest power in the EU - Germany - exports way more cars to the UK than we do to them, so they are not going to allow the erection of tariffs because they would damage their own industry and shoot themselves in the foot.

"Even if, in a moment of madness, they did, what's the worst that can happen? German cars would become a little bit more expensive, we would buy a few less and would end up buying more British-produced cars."

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