‘Astonishingly good’ car industry figures reinforce need for single market and custom union access

The latest record UK car production figures strongly reinforce the case that prime minister Theresa May needs to negotiate access to the European single market for the industry and membership of the EU customs union during the Brexit negotiations, Unite said yesterday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) reported demand for British-built cars last month helped deliver the biggest February for UK car production in 17 years.

“These astonishingly good figures clearly demonstrate that the automotive industry is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of British manufacturing which the prime minister needs to vigorously fight for in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations,” said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

“Unite’s red line for the car industry is access to the European single market with no tariffs and a frictionless supply chain through membership of the customs union.

“The latest SMMT figures highlight the great contribution that the workforce has made to the car industry’s successful renaissance over the last decade – the workers are highly skilled, adaptable and productive,” he added.

“Unite and the car companies are ‘at one’ in wanting this success story to continue – and protecting and enhancing the dominant role that the automotive industry plays in the British economy should be at the top of the prime minister’s agenda when the Brexit talks start.”

According to the SMMT, UK production lines turned out one car every 16 seconds in the month, with total output of 153,041 up eight per cent, as exports grew 13.4 per cent to 118,898 units.

Unite, which has 95,000 auto members, is holding a conference – Securing a Future for the UK Auto Industry – in Birmingham on Saturday (March 25) with industry leaders to outline a programme of investment and development of a vital UK industry.