Aston Martin boss backs May's Brexit plan

Andy Palmer told Reuters news agency that crashing out of Europe without a deal would mean tariffs, delays at the border and a depressed market.

He became the latest business figure to back Mrs May as she faces intense political opposition over the agreement hammered out between UK and EU officials.

Business bodies including the CBI and the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have lined up to give the agreement a cautious welcome.

Mr Palmer said the deal “appears to be good enough” but the company would not halt contingency plans, which could see parts flown in through airports rather than shipped to Dover, while doubts remained over whether it would receive parliamentary backing.

He added: “No-deal Brexit is a disaster… because you’re into tariffs at the borders, you’re into essentially logjams at the border, you’re into discussions about your labour.”

On Wednesday, Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier told Sky News the agreement was not ideal but would mean “much lower friction” than a no-deal scenario, adding: “As a business we can make it work so let’s get on with it.”

Meanwhile, Sky News revealed that Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark urged dozens of business leaders, in a hastily-arranged conference call, to back the draft and avoid the “chaos” of a no-deal.

They addressed bosses including representatives from Airbus, Aviva, Barclays, Grant Thornton and Standard Life Aberdeen.

Mr Palmer made his comments as Aston Martin reported its first quarterly results since its stock market float in August.

Profits rose to £3.1m in the third quarter compared to just £300,000 in the same period last year, as sales volumes doubled to 1,776 vehicles and revenues rose 81% to £282.4m.

It was helped by sales nearly tripling in the Americas and nearly doubling in Far East markets, and the company said full-year sales were on course to come in at the top end of expectations.

But Aston Martin, in common with other car makers, also faces the challenge of having to make contingency plans to counter supply chain disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It has previously said that it would consider flying in car components and moving parts through UK ports other than Dover to avoid border delays in such a scenario.

Mr Palmer told Reuters on Wednesday that Aston Martin could not stand down its contingency planning yet, with the draft Brexit agreement still needing to be passed by MPs.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said that for the car industry, Brexit was about “damage limitation”.

He said: “The outline agreement is a positive step in avoiding the devastating consequences of ‘no deal’ and securing a transition period.”

Earlier, CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn, said the draft deal represented “progress”.

“It moves the UK one step away from the nightmare precipice of no deal and the harm it would cause to communities across the country.”

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