Car industry chief Mike Hawes has said Theresa May's much maligned proposal for Brexit is a "step in the right direction" for the troubled industry.
Hawes, the chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told the BBC that while the prime minister's Brexit strategy wasn't a "panacea" for the industry, remaining partially in a customs union with Europe for a limited time would help ease the concerns of car makers who really on the easy flow of tariff-free goods.
Hawes said: "The [Chequers] plan actually delivered not everything – it wasn't a panacea for the industry – but what it proposed was actually a step in the right direction for our industry.
"What matters for this industry is making sure we get a deal. If we have no deal that is going to be a significant challenge to the industry, undermining competitiveness, it makes it that much harder to export and that invariably challenges the industry."
Under May's Chequers proposal – which has been criticised by Labour and Tory MPs alike – Britain would share a "common rulebook" for goods but not services, and would retain close regulatory alignment.
Last month the SMMT issued a stark warning against a no-deal Brexit – in which the UK would crash out of the EU on terms set by the World Trading Organisation – saying it was "not an option" for the sector and that £5bn tariffs were "just the tip of the iceberg".
The trade body warned that UK buyers of cars and vans from the EU face an additional bill of between £1,500 and £1,700 as import tariffs would push up the cost of cars.
Hawes said at the time: “Tariffs alone should be enough to focus minds on sealing a withdrawal agreement between the EU and UK but the potential impact of ‘no-deal’ means the stakes for the automotive sector are far higher.
"Without a deal, there can be no transition period and the complex issues surrounding tariffs and trade, customs, regulation and access to talent will remain unresolved."