Toyota urges support for PM’s Brexit deal

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Dr Johan van Zyl says the deal will protect the car industry’s competitiveness

Toyota’s Europe boss has reiterated his support for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal ahead of Tuesday’s key Commons vote.

Dr Johan van Zyl said the deal was vital to protecting the UK car industry and would stop a damaging no deal exit.

His intervention comes days after Jaguar Land Rover and Ford announced thousands of UK job cuts, blaming a slowdown in the global car market.

The Japanese firm has said it could cut jobs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The carmaker, which is investing £250m in producing the new Corolla at Burnaston, is concerned about the potential disruption to its just-in-time supply chain.

It is also worried about new tariffs, as a large proportion of the cars it makes in Britain are exported to the EU.

The firm, which also has a plant at Deeside, employs 3,000 people in the UK.

Speaking at a launch event for the new Corolla on Monday, Dr van Zyl told the BBC: “We’ve said since the start of the Brexit discussions that we would like to see trade without any duties or tariffs, and of course we would like to see a regime where the regulatory framework is the same between the EU and the UK.

“That for us is what is really required to make sure that our operations can continue as they are at the moment.”

He added: “The big thing about [the Brexit] deal that is on the table is that it really allows us to keep our competitiveness. But if we put any friction or tariffs into the system, that will impact our costs and that will affect our competitiveness.”

Theresa May has urged MPs to back her Brexit deal “for the country’s sake” as Tuesday’s Commons vote looms closer.

But despite EU assurances on the “backstop” – the fallback plan to avoid any return to physical Northern Ireland border checks – it seems unlikely she will triumph, political observers say.

Business minister Greg Clark, who attended the Toyota event on Monday, said that not backing the deal could damage British business.

He told the BBC: “What we need to do to continue a success like [Burnaston] is we need to be able to continue to be able to sell into Europe, protect the just-in-time production that has been the foundation of its success, and we’re absolutely determined to ensure that should continue.

“I think it is really important that Parliament listens to people who are creating jobs in this region and across the country and act on it.”

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