Articles about ‘Brexit’
The loss of Honda’s Swindon plant is a bitter blow to the automotive sector in the UK and devastating for the 3,500 people who work there.
Representing the area of Longbridge, I know the impact that closure of car plant has on families whose livelihoods depend on it. The reasons for Honda’s decision today are very different to MG Rover back in 2005, but the affected families will today be feeling the very same fear for their futures as those who were affected by the MG Rover closure almost 14 years ago. Those individuals and families should be at the centre of our thoughts today. A range of practical initiatives were taken at the time of the MG Rover collapse to support both employees facing redundancy and other companies affected by the closure. The Government must look at what can be learned from those initiatives for Swindon today.
As with other recent announcements of the loss of a new model at Nissan in Sunderland and job losses at Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, Honda’s decision cannot be simply put down to Brexit. But it is clear that Brexit is an important part of the background in which these decisions are being made.
With a committed workforce, excellence in innovation and a stable operating environment, the UK has built up a deserved reputation as a great place for automotive companies to invest and as a gateway to the European market. It is that reputation that has made Swindon the home of the Honda Civic, but it is a reputation now under threat.
Decisions to accelerate development of electric and other powertrains beyond petrol and diesel are leading Honda and other manufacturers to review their operations worldwide. When they do so, they make judgements about where to do business. The harsh reality is that Brexit uncertainties are undermining confidence in the UK as the stable gateway to Europe that we have been until now. The looming possibility of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal on 29th March is adding an even more serious dimension to that uncertainty.
Brexit is hitting UK manufacturing and it is hitting it hard. It all underlines why whatever else happens in the coming weeks, the Government must rule out a no-deal Brexit.
Where we are now
In the Birmingham Mail in December, I set out my thoughts on the issues facing the country. I tried to address the real possibility that if Parliament remained unable to agree a way forward – there may be little alternative but to put the choices facing the UK back to the people for a final decision. So what has happened since then? The Brexit deal that Theresa May recommended was, of course, rejected by Parliament earlier this month by 432 votes to 202 – the biggest defeat in history for a sitting Prime Minister. It was a deal that was neither acceptable to the majority of MPs who had backed Brexit in the referendum nor to those who had voted to Remain at that time.
This week, Parliament again debated the issue. Read more
Crashing out of the EU without a deal would inflict serious damage on manufacturing industry here in the Midlands and beyond. Whatever happens to the Prime Minister’s deal, the overriding priority now must be to rule out a no deal Brexit to avoid that damage. My speech in today’s Commons Brexit debate:
Did Seaborne Freight issue an inaccurate briefing to investors and what investigations have ministers carried out before awarding a £13.8m contract? My question in the House of Commons and the non-reply I received from the Transport Secretary:
Hopefully you will have seen my previous Brexit updates in previous newsletters and on my website. As ever, things have drastically changed since the last update in November. You will now likely know that the long-awaited Parliamentary vote on the Prime Minister’s deal – that was supposed to take place last week – has been pulled and delayed. The Prime Minister has now said that vote will take place on 14th January 2019, though if she’s pulled it once she could of course pull it again.
The problem is, however, that leaves us with precious little time to get things sorted before the date of 29thMarch 2019, which was set for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. It seems that the Prime Minister is trying to maximise pressure for Parliament to accept her deal – warts and all – in order to avoid a no deal exit on 29th March. All the indications are, however, MPs will not give in to the pressure and that the deal proposed by the Prime Minister will be voted down whenever it comes before Parliament for a vote. Whatever arguments continue in the coming weeks about that, however, one thing is clear. Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be the worst thing for the UK – including for jobs and living standards in the Midlands. That is why I signed up to a letter with scores of other MPs from different parties to press the Prime Minister to avoid that eventuality and rule out a no-deal scenario. The letter is gaining more signatures as each day passes.
Some of the signatories will vote for the Prime Minister’s deal. Some of us will not. But what unites us is a conviction that crashing out of the EU without a deal must be ruled out, whatever happens. There are various ways that could be achieved – including extending the date of the Article 50 process which sets out the timetable and deadline for Brexit. I will be working with like-minded colleagues in the coming weeks to push the Government to take stock of the reality and join us in ruling out a no deal Brexit. If you want to read more about my take on Brexit and haven’t yet read this, last month the Birmingham Post and Mail also published a piece from me on some of the options facing Parliament in the weeks ahead.