A UK lobby group representing the country’s key car sector is demanding a Brexit transitional deal with no time limits, its president said in a speech on Tuesday.
Tony Walker, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union was already taking its ‘toll’, as he addressed more than 1,100 industry leaders.
He said a transitional period ‘should be on the current terms and, crucially, not time-limited’, so that the UK automative sector can stay competitive.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May wants a Brexit implementation period of about two years after Britain’s planned departure in March 2019.
Walker added on Tuesday: ‘We will never stop striving to be competitive. But we ask government to help provide the conditions in which we can compete. Like every other industry, we need certainty now.’
UK business in general has warned that it will be forced to activate contingency plans – some of which involve relocating part of operations to the continental European Union – if Brexit uncertainty persists.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney on Tuesday said that a messy Brexit was ‘in nobody’s interest’ and would have ‘an economic impact on households and businesses’.
There are concerns that a deadlock in exit talks with Brussels could see Britain depart the EU without a trade deal in place, potentially causing severe disruption to the nation’s economy.
Recent SMMT data meanwhile showed that British car sales sank for the seventh successive month in October on disappointing consumer demand.
New car registrations slumped 12.2 percent year-on-year to 158,192 vehicles last month, while the trade body blamed the drop also on confusion surrounding plans by the UK government for improved air quality that risk impacting sales of diesel cars.
‘We have huge challenges. Consumer confidence has fallen leading to a downturn in sales. Uncertainty about Brexit – and market confusion over diesel – are taking their toll,” Walker said.