Toyota and the Unite union have jointly written to Toyota UK staff to “put the record straight” on Toyota’s position on the UK’s European Referendum – and criticised “unfortunate and repeated misrepresentation” of it by Vote Leave and Leave.EU.
Toyota originally didn’t want to get drawn into the ‘Brexit’ issue and, while this remains the case, it says it’s now essential it clarifies its position given such on-going misrepresentation.
Which is? “Toyota and Unite have said that from the business perspective, we firmly believe that continued British membership of the EU is best for our operations and our long term competitiveness.
“We believe we will face significant business challenges as a result of a decision to withdraw from the EU.” The open letter goes on to list these, with reasons including the simple fact the Burnaston and Deeside plants were originally built in the UK to make cars and engines for Europe
Open, free access to the EU is of “critical importance” to the business, says Toyota: 90% of British-built vehicles are exported – and 75% go to Europe, where there are no tariffs or duties.
“If the UK leaves the EU, we think it unlikely that the UK can keep the current trading arrangements… this would mean we would have to pay duties on cars. This could be as much as 10% for cars, leading to either huge cost reduction challenges for us or more expensive cars for our customers.
“New trade agreements may be negotiated but these take many years to agree and the outcome is also uncertain, however we do know that they cannot be better than what we have now, 0% for our main European markets.”
Toyota still doesn’t take an official position in the letter, simply advising staff to “vote as you think is right”. But anything that adds to the cost and complexity of building in Britain, it says, “will make it harder for us to compete and win new business”.
It may not be an official position, but it’s still clear what outcome Toyota and Unite are hoping for on Thursday…