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Audi boss: We must have tariff-free trade with UK

THE head of one of Germany’s biggest car makers has called for a tariff-free trade deal with Britain.

Audi chairman Rupert Stadler said he wanted the EU to find a deal that would preserve existing markets on both sides of the Channel. Asked if he was concerned about the impact on UK sales — and the knock-on effect on German jobs — in the event of post-Brexit tariffs, he said: ‘We don’t want tariffs. I’m a big fan of fair trade and free trade.’

Mr Stadler (pictured) said there would be no winners if the EU and the UK didn’t strike a deal.

Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg welcomed the comments and said it suggested EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was out of step with the interests of member states. The Tory MP said it was also important because German leader Angela Merkel ‘has a good track record of backing Germany’s industrial interests’. He added: ‘The unity of the EU is fraying — the question is whether things will move in time.’

Meanwhile the UK government said it was treating a warning by the Netherlands to its manufacturers to avoid British components as an ‘extremely high priority’. The Dutch have been told they risk losing free trade access to the EU after Brexit if they source too many parts from the UK. The ‘rules of origin’ say at least 55 per cent of components must come from within the bloc.

Treasury minister Mel Stride told BBC Radio 4 he was ‘confident’ the issue would be resolved.