Brexit uncertainty could jeopardise Toyota’s UK investment, executive warns
13 September 2017
Uncertainty over Brexit could jeopardise future investment in the UK by Toyota, a senior executive at the carmaker warned.
Executive vice president Didier Leroy said there had been a shift in the Government's position and the lack of clarity could leave a "big question mark" over the Japanese car giant's future spending in the UK.
Pro-EU Labour MP Chuka Umunna said Mr Leroy's comments showed that Theresa May should ditch her plans to leave the single market and customs union.
Toyota announced plans to invest £240 million in its plant in Derbyshire in March, but at the time the car giant called for continued tariff- and barrier-free access between the UK and Europe.
Mr Leroy expressed his concerns about the Government's approach in an interview with Reuters at the Frankfurt car show.
"A few months ago the UK government was saying 'we're sure we'll be able to negotiate (a deal) without any trade tax,'" he said. "They are not saying that any more."
He added: "It's clear that if we have to wait two to three more years to have a clarity on this topic, we will have a big question mark about our future investment in the country."
Mr Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign pushing for continued close ties with Brussels, said: "Toyota employs thousands of people in this country and it is extremely worrying that they are becoming increasingly exasperated with the Government's shambolic attitude to negotiations.
"Ministers used to promise exporters that after Brexit they would enjoy the 'exact same benefits' as single market and customs union membership.
“But as the Brexit talks flounder and reality starts to bite, they’re facing up to the fact that their plans for a destructive hard Brexit will make us less attractive to investors and damage our economy.”
When the carmaker announced its investment in March, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe Johan van Zyl warned: “Continued tariff- and barrier-free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success.”
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “Our automotive sector is one of the most productive in the world and Toyota’s decision in March to invest £240 million upgrading its Burnaston plant in Derby, with £21 million of additional Government support, was a further demonstration of this.
“The Government has been clear that we believe an interim period is in the interests of both the UK and the EU, providing certainty to businesses and citizens, and ensuring we avoid any cliff-edge as we move to our future partnership.
“We want the UK to have the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free trade in goods and services with our European neighbours and we are confident that we can achieve this aim.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “These are real jobs and real homes of real people under threat because ministers still don’t have a coherent negotiating position.
“If major companies such as Toyota are worried, the British people should be worried.”
Andrew Matthews/PA Wire