Posted: Wed 18th Jan 2017

Two of Deeside’s biggest employers express concerns over prospect of a ‘hard Brexit’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017

Two Deeside heavyweights, Toyota and Airbus have both expressed concerns over Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for a ‘hard Brexit’.

In a landmark speech on Tuesday, Prime Minster May laid out a vision of life outside the single market and customs union with a twelve point plan.

Mrs May said she was confident that a deal and a new strategic partnership between the UK and the EU can be achieved. However, she made it clear she would walk away if the terms weren’t right for Britain.

Airbus expressed concern over the prospect of a clean break between Britain and the European Union.

Marwan Lahoud, Airbus executive vice-president for international, strategy and public affairs said;

“We are watching with a great deal of attention and even some concern what is being said about a hard Brexit” reported Reuters.

Toyota warned that it is considering “how to survive” in a UK outside the EU single market as businesses began to absorb the implications of Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

UK plants need to become more competitive

Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota, in Davos for the World Economic Forum told the Financial Times that the company’s UK plants needed to become more competitive if they were to survive under Mrs May’s plans.

“We have seen the direction of the Prime Minister of the UK, we are now going to consider, together with the suppliers, how our company can survive,” he said.

Responding to Mrs May’s commitment to take Britain out of the EU single market and customs union, he said: “I won’t say that there is no impact to the company.”

Mr Uchiyamada said Toyota is talking to the UK government in an effort to minimise disruption for the company;

“We are considering and discussing with the government how to maintain the competitiveness and therefore through these kinds of communications we have with the government, our hope is that we will be able to draw a bright future for the continuing existence of the plant,” he said.

Seeking assurances from the UK government

Takeshi Uchiyamada is seeking assurances from the UK government but he stressed local operations (such as Deeside) would have to play their part in improving productivity if the plants are to survive, when most of the models and engines they manufacture are exported to the EU.

Agreeing that Mrs May’s plans will damage the UK operations, he said: “The company will have to make efforts to ensure that it doesn’t turn out that way and of course what the company needs to do in any country is to understand the overall policy of that country and do what they have to do.” The FT article said.

Mr Uchiyamada stressed that no decisions had yet been taken and Toyota would wait to see how the rest of the EU responded to the UK government’s Brexit plans.

He also said Toyota, which has operated in the UK since 1989, liked to make long-term investment decisions and recognised its responsibilities to local workforces and suppliers.

A “hard Brexit” could hit Deeside manufacturing industries hard.

That’s the view of Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM LLyr Gruffydd who said;

Deeside and Wrexham are the manufacturing powerhouse of the North and the concerns expressed by major employers such as Toyota in the wake of the ‘hard Brexit’ decision by Theresa May are a huge concern.

The decision to leave the EU has been made but it’s vital to get the manner of that departure right – for the sake of Welsh jobs and the wider economy.

Let’s not forget that the UK Government was very keen to make a secret deal with Nissan in Sunderland to reassure them immediately after the Brexit vote. Whatever that deal entailed should be offered to Toyota too.

Toyota’s boss has made it clear that the company will review its options depending on whether access to the single market is retained.

That’s in the best interests of Welsh workers and that’s why Plaid Cymru will continue to campaign for the best possible deal to safeguard the Welsh economy.

Welsh exports to the EU make up 68% of all exports, the largest percentage of all nations and regions in the UK. So this is a particular issue for Wales and we should not be sidelined in any debate on our future.

 All 12 points set out by Theresa May

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