Sir Keir Starmer said the Brexit deal needed to be improved after the owner of Vauxhall said it will be unable to keep its commitment to make electric vehicles in the UK without changes to the trade agreement with the European Union.
The Labour leader made his comments after one of the world’s largest carmakers has said it will be unable to keep their commitment to make electric vehicles in the UK without changes to the Brexit deal.
Stellantis – the parent company of Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot and Fiat – which employs more than 5,000 people in the UK – told a Commons inquiry into supply of batteries for EV manufacture that their UK investments were in the balance due to the terms of the trade deal.
In a submission to the inquiry, the company said the Brexit deal was a “threat to our export business and the sustainability of our UK manufacturing operations”.
Responding to the revelation, speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Labour Party leader said: “Look, we’re not going to re-enter the EU. We do need to improve that deal. Of course we want a closer trading relationship, we absolutely do. We want to ensure that Vauxhall and many others not just survive in this country but thrive.
“Because there are jobs bound up, there are families watching this morning either employed by Vauxhall or a similar place who are deeply worried about what this means.
“So yes we need a better Brexit deal. We will make Brexit work. That doesn’t mean reversing the decision and going back into the EU but the deal we’ve got, it was said to be oven-ready, it wasn’t even half-baked.
“So of course we’ve got to repair that along with all the other things we’ll have to repair if and when we are privileged to come into government.”
Starmer said there was “too much by way of barriers”, saying they needed to be torn down in any update to the Brexit deal. He said a future Labour government would look to “make things here in Britain” to ensure a strong domestic supply chain.