TOYOTA pledged yesterday to invest £240 million to modernise its plant in Derbyshire.
But the Japanese car firm’s boss, Dr Johan Van Zyl, urged the government to ensure Britain retains tariff-free access to the European market when it leaves the EU.
He warned: “Continued tariff and barrier-free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success.” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the investment.
He said: “The confirmation of this platform upgrade at Toyota is further evidence that the UK car industry and the people who work in it are among the best in the world at what they do.
“With discussions set to start on the replacement of models such as Vauxhall’s Astra and decisions due on BMW’s electric Mini, it is vital that government ministers calm nerves by stating they will secure tariff-free access to the European single market and customs union in Brexit negotiations.
“The car industry is one of the jewels in our nation’s manufacturing crown. Government ministers must work with us to keep it that way.”
The money will be backed by up to £21.3m of government investment, subject to independent assessment, to support skills and training, research and development and innovation.
Prime Minister Theresa May has given special Brexit assurances to rival Japanese carmaker Nissan as thousands of jobs in the sector hang in the balance after she confirmed Britain will be extricated from the free-trade area.
Unite has called an emergency conference at the Birmingham ICC next Saturday from 10:30am until 3pm to defend Britain’s automotive industry following Brexit.