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BMW bosses: We are here to stay, hard Brexit or not

Staying: Mr Robertson (right) at a launch
with Sienna Miller and James Franco PICTURE: GETTY

BMW bosses yesterday committed to staying in Britain post-Brexit, despite warnings from the motor trade about a slump in investment.

The German carmaker’s UK representative Ian Robertson rejected suggestions they were considering pulling out of UK plants making Minis and Rolls-Royces due to a potential hard Brexit.

He was speaking as it was revealed investment in UK auto production has almost halved, from £647million in the first six months of 2017 to £347million over the same period this year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders warned major car firms could move production overseas

Mr Robertson said this does not apply to BMW and customs manager Stephan Freismuth’s comments on Monday suggesting it could close its four British factories were taken out of context.

At an SMMT event in London, he said: ‘We are not considering that as an option.’ He said he ‘would hate, both personally and professionally’ any prospect of Britain being ‘knocked off course because of some changes in the political environment’.

He said BMW was only planning any measures needed to overcome ‘impediments to border fluidity’. ‘It would be foolhardy of any company not to have these contingency ideas under way because we are racing towards March 29 next year,’ he said.

SMMT boss Michael Hawes warned Theresa May that a hard Brexit ‘goes directly against the interests’ of the UK car sector, which has ‘thrived’ in the single market and customs union.

He said unless a new model for trade with the EU could replicate current benefits the message was: ‘Don’t change it.’

The Financial Times reported yesterday that Japanese carmaker Honda feared a hard Brexit would treble the three-day arrival times for crucial parts coming from Europe to UK warehouses.