Unite urges government to heed warning of UK car industry extinctions outside a customs union

Unite has warned the government to heed a warning by the CBI that sections of the UK’s car industry face extinction unless the UK belongs to a customs union with the EU.

CBI president Paul Dreschler said if there is no customs union there are “sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct”, with repercussions spreading throughout supply chains.

Speaking to the BBC, Dreschler said the automotive sector in particular would be in peril unless the UK gets “real frictionless trade”.

Dreschler launched a scathing attack on the government’s Brexit approach, saying it was being led by a “tidal wave of ideology” and that there was “zero evidence” that new trade deals with countries outside the EU would benefit the UK’s economy.

He added: “We already know tens of millions, in fact hundreds of millions have been invested by UK pharmaceutical and finance companies to create continuity post a worse-case Brexit scenario. Tens of millions. What could we have done with that money?”

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said that Unite has been warning of the catastrophe that faces UK manufacturing if there is no access to a single market and a customs union, saying Dreschler’s warning should be a “wake up call for the government”.

Burke said: “When industry leaders are warning that parts of the UK’s world leading auto-sector are facing extinction and that tens of millions of pounds worth of investment across numerous sectors has already been lost, then it is time for Theresa May to rethink her calamitous redlines.

“Ms May is consumed by internal battles on Brexit, chasing phantom trade deals and believing her own propaganda.

“The government needs to start listening to business and trade unions and our members rather than pandering to the Brextremist’s on the hard right of the Tory party, who really do not care about good manufacturing jobs. They have no interest in protecting the parts of our economy that provide decent stable jobs – all they want is a deregulated race to the bottom economy which will allow them to cream obscene amounts of wealth with no oversight.

“If the government doesn’t change course soon, it is working people who will pay the price.”