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UK Automotive Industry: Job Losses — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:37 am on 22nd May 2018.

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Photo of Laura Pidcock Laura Pidcock Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Labour) 10:37 am, 22nd May 2018

That is right. I have outlined previously that perhaps some of the confusion and slowness in the process is due to the fact that an initial set of negotiations has to be carried out with two or three Cabinet members before negotiations with the EU can take place.

The SMMT says that

“neither option currently being considered by government...would provide the frictionless movement of goods that UK automotive needs to maintain its competitiveness and productivity.”

It is right that the Labour party has called for the Government to negotiate a new comprehensive EU-UK customs union covering all goods. That is the best way to ensure that there are no tariffs or customs checks within Europe, to support jobs, particularly the 2.1 million UK manufacturing jobs, and to help to avoid, crucially, the need for a hard border in Northern Ireland. It would be very helpful if the Minister could use his closing remarks to set out how the Government will ensure the future security of the automotive industry and those employed in it, going beyond the bespoke assurances to the likes of Nissan and Peugeot. Those were important, but we need more than that.

The automotive industry in the UK is a great success story. We have heard a tour de force in defence of the industry from all hon. Members in the Chamber, but it is currently under huge pressure, and sadly that shows through in the increasingly frequent announcements about job losses and in sales figures. It is incumbent on the Government to work with businesses, industry bodies and trade unions and listen to them when they express very clearly that the Government should prioritise a customs arrangement that removes the risk of tariffs being imposed. We must, as an imperative, seek to protect workers’ jobs and secure the future success of the industry as a whole, and I would be grateful if the Minister could now set out how he intends to do that.