UK car manufacturers must have full access to the single market after Brexit, demands Labour

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has accused ministers of holding back the British car making industry and of being reluctant to intervene to support the automotive sector. Picture by PA.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has accused ministers of holding back the British car making industry and of being reluctant to intervene to support the automotive sector. Picture by PA.

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Britain's carmakers must be granted full, barrier-free access to the European single market after Brexit, Labour demanded after talks with unions and workers in the industry.

Jeremy Corbyn accused ministers of "holding back the industry" and of being reluctant to intervene to support the automotive sector.

The industry faces a challenge from Brexit, with many manufacturers having complex supply chains which involve components travelling back and forth across EU frontiers.

As well as full single market access, Labour's plan for the industry's future involves bringing supply chains back to the UK, giving workers a voice in any new takeovers and improving employment rights.

The Opposition also urged the Government to adopt an approach of buying British to help firms based in the country.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: "We called this meeting because there is a real risk that this Government is going to let squeamishness about state intervention get in the way of giving the automotive industry and auto workers the support and protection they deserve.

"The Government is holding back the industry, adding to uncertainty for thousands of families.

"Labour is committed to doing everything we can to support the automotive sector and those who work in and rely on it, as part of our plan to rebuild and transform Britain."

Nissan announced in October that it was investing in the production of new Qashqai and X-Trail models at Sunderland after receiving Government assurances that EU withdrawal would not affect the plant's competitiveness.

But in a sign of concerns in the industry the car giant's senior vice-president Colin Lawther told MPs in February it would be a "complete disaster" if the delivery of parts to its giant Sunderland plant was disrupted by customs checks as a result of the UK leaving the European Customs Union (CU).