Comment from: Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation; Stephen Kelly, CEO Manufacturing NI; and Paul Sheerin, CEO Scottish Engineering.
After over 4 years of uncertainty, UK manufacturers are now facing the most challenging start to the New Year, dealing with a pandemic and the risk of having no trading arrangement with our largest market.
A no deal would be catastrophic for Britain’s manufacturers, a sector which came to the nation’s aid when the Covid crisis struck. It was UK manufacturers who switched production to make vital PPE kit desperately needed in care homes and the NHS, ensured there were enough ventilators for every hospital, medicines for doctors to prescribe and kept food on our supermarket shelves at a time of unparalleled demand.
We are asking that the Prime Minister and President of the EU Commission work together and find a pragmatic solution to deliver a zero tariff and zero quota deal to avoid additional friction at the border. Manufacturing is a sector which creates hundreds of billions of pounds of economic value and supports 2.7 million jobs, many of which are heavily dependent on trade with the EU.
The British car industry alone supports 800,000 jobs, and the majority of production is sold to Europe. The tariffs imposed in the event of no deal would wipe out that industry’s profit margins at a stroke. And in the main, manufacturing jobs are in the very areas that need the most help in levelling up – a key part of the Government’s manifesto pledges.
We are once again asking for politicians to put jobs first both here and in the EU. Never forget, that 40 years of increasing integration of manufacturing supply chains on both sides of the Channel mean that highly skilled, well paid roles are at stake in every country in the European Union as well as here in the UK in communities in desperate need of levelling up. This is the last chance to make things right, and neither side can afford to let this chance slip away.