[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield 5:16 pm, 15th January 2019

I first declare an interest: I chair the all-party motor group, which receives support from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Motorsport Industry Association, and the RAC Foundation.

Yesterday, I attended the first meeting of the development partnership that has been established by the Business Secretary in response to the announcement that Jaguar Land Rover will cut 4,500 jobs this year. This is not a company in crisis. Indeed, in addition to the job loss announcement, the company also told us about its impressive forward investment plans. But this is still a time of great uncertainty for employees, and there will be a big role for the development partnership in standing by them.

I do not claim that the job losses at Jaguar Land Rover are to do only with Brexit. The downturn in the Chinese market is an important part of the picture, as has been the depression in sales of cleaner diesel engines. Shortage of time means that I cannot go into that today, but Brexit is also part of the picture. Yesterday’s meeting reinforced my belief that the most important thing to do now is to rule out crashing out of the EU without a deal. That cannot be mitigated, whether by a ferry company with no ships or converting an airport runway into a lorry park. It is no answer for motor manufacturers or for companies in their supply chain to have somewhere to park their trucks when they cannot get those trucks to and from channel ports to deliver the parts needed every day to build 6,600 cars and 9,000 engines here in the UK. They need to be able to get the 1,100 trucks that carry those components across the channel every day to their plants not only on time, but in the right order, to keep their production lines going. It is the same for the £3.4 billion-worth of components from suppliers in the UK that go to the European Union to build vehicles over there. The only way to keep production going is not to make forlorn efforts to try to mitigate chaos—it is to stop the chaos happening in the first place.

Investment decisions are now on hold. If we want to guarantee and secure them, we have to rule out no deal. To do that, we have to decide what we will do after the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated tonight, as it surely will be. We must buy ourselves some time to do that, because any other option will not be able to be completed by 29 March. If that means extending article 50, that is what we should do. We need to prevent a no-deal Brexit by default, and that is now the overriding priority.