Just days ahead of the EU membership referendum, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents the UK automotive industry, has said that it wants to ensure “absolute clarity”, citing recent “misrepresentations” on its position.
The UK’s automotive industry supports 800,000 jobs across the UK and contributing £15.5 billion annually to the economy, with 80 per cent of vehicles manufactured going abroad - with over half of those (57.5 per cent) heading for the rest of the EU. The SMMT cites “unrestricted access to the world’s largest single market, the negotiating strength of the EU to secure international trade deals, the ability to shape technical regulations and free movement of labour” as the reasons for their members wishing to remain in the EU.
The SMMT also commissioned a survey before the referendum campaigning period started, and 77 per cent of the respondents believed that remaining within the EU would be the best for business. The 9 per cent who preferred the ‘Leave’ option, according to the SMMT, included no large companies.
Among those in favour of remaining in the EU is Jaguar Land Rover, whose Chief Financial Officer Ken Gregor said: "Remaining in the EU – our largest market – will increase Jaguar Land Rover's chances to grow, create jobs and attract investment in future technologies. Our European supply chain has been fundamental in helping us to meet customer expectations worldwide and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.”
Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, added: “We firmly believe Britain would be better off if it remained an active and influential member of the EU, shaping European regulations which will continue to impact the UK whatever the decision on Thursday.”
Commenting on the SMMT’s decision to support the pro-EU campaign, Vote Leave Chief Executive Matthew Elliott said:
“We know that British car exports are increasingly going to the rest of the world - not the EU. As such, a vote to leave could provide a boost to the industry as we would be free to sign free trade agreements with emerging markets - something we are currently forbidden from doing by the EU.
“Leading car manufacturers have been very clear that jobs and investment would not be affected if we vote to leave, so it would be wrong to suggest otherwise. The real risk to the UK economy - to jobs as well as competitiveness - is to remain locked to the failing Eurozone.”