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Daily Mail: Jaguar’s Brexit boost

Date: 25 11 2016

Jaguar’s Brexit boost: Car giant announces plans for 10,000 new jobs as UK sees investment, export and retail all rise

  • Jaguar Land Rover threw its weight behind the UK by indicating expansion
  • New figures confounded further the gloomy official forecasts this week
  • Car giant’s boss challenged government to make £450million investment 
  • Firm planning to build a new generation of battery-powered vehicles

Jaguar Land Rover yesterday unveiled plans to double production and create thousands of jobs in Brexit Britain.

The car giant threw its weight behind the UK by indicating it could expand its workforce by 10,000 and make a million vehicles a year by 2020.

A flurry of other positive news showed investment, exports and retail sales were rising.

The figures confounded gloomy official forecasts this week that suggested leaving the EU would cost billions of pounds and worsen a squeeze on living standards.

Developments yesterday included:

  • The pro-Remain CBI admitted retail sales were rising at the fastest pace in a year;
  • Exports rose 0.7 per cent helped by the weaker pound;
  • Business investment rose sharply in the three months following the referendum;
  • The Bavarian economics minister called for a comprehensive trade deal with Britain;
  • No 10 slapped down John Major for saying there was a case for a second referendum.

A string of economists claimed this week that Brexit was likely to harm the economy – while citing highly uncertain figures.

But MPs and ministers pointed out that their ‘doom-mongering’ forecasts of an immediate recession after the June 23 referendum had proved false.

That stance was boosted by the announcement from Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth.

He vowed to use the UK as a base to take on the powerful German motor industry and make Britain the global leader in electric cars.

The firm is planning to build a new generation of the vehicles along with the batteries that will power them.

Dr Speth said: ‘The German government wants to be ahead in this. We are in a race. Either we win or we lose.’

The chief executive challenged the Government to invest £450million in Midlands infrastructure to help secure the investment, saying this could create jobs.

He warned Britain would lose investment to other countries – such as Germany – if ministers did not act.

Industry insiders believe the expansion could create 10,000 jobs and tens of thousands more in supplier firms.

Nissan has confirmed it will build two new models at its plant in Sunderland following assurances from ministers.

Douglas Carswell MP, a leading Leave campaigner, said: ‘This is a Christmas present come early. Jaguar is the very best of British.

‘Owned by India, it is a world class company and it’s wonderful to know that the owners of this company have such confidence in our economy after Brexit.’

John Longworth, the former head of the British Chambers of Commerce and now co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, said: ‘We are seeing confident investors in the UK boosting the economy and defying the Brexit remoaners and wreckers.’

Official figures released yesterday showed that investment rose sharply over the summer.

The Office for National Statistics said businesses invested £44.2billion in the third quarter of the year – the first three months after the EU referendum.

That was up 0.9 per cent on the previous three months, contradicting warnings that a vote to quit the Brussels club would hammer confidence and cause employers to rein in spending.

GlaxoSmithKline, Boeing, McDonalds, Google and Facebook have all outlined investment plans in the UK since the Brexit vote.

A separate report from the pro-EU Confederation of British Industry yesterday showed high street sales grew at their fastest pace in more than a year in the 12 months to November, as colder weather prompted shoppers to stock up on winter clothes.

A survey of 126 firms by the CBI found that sales for this time of year were well above average.

Forty-two per cent of retailers said they were doing better than a year ago while 16 per cent said business was worse.

The difference of 26 was the highest since September last year.

A report by the ONS also confirmed that the economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year following expansion of 0.7 per cent in the second quarter.

The figures are another slapdown to George Osborne’s warnings that a vote to leave would cause ‘an immediate and profound shock to our economy’ and tip the UK into recession.

In May, the then Chancellor said the economy would contract by as much as 1 per cent in the third quarter if Britain voted Leave.

The economy was given a boost by a 0.7 per cent increase in household spending as well as the 0.9 per cent rise in business investment.

Exports also rose by 0.7 per cent as the fall in the pound following the Brexit vote boosted overseas sales.

The car industry has been one of the bright spots of the economy since the financial crisis.

Since the referendum ministers have been desperately trying to reassure car bosses, who warned a Brexit vote could damage sales and cause them to move some of their operations abroad.

Greg Clark, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, has said making Britain a world-leading hub for next-generation electric vehicles will be at the heart of industrial strategy.

In the autumn statement on Wednesday the Government committed to investing an extra £390million in the sector.

In Los Angeles last week Jaguar Land Rover unveiled its first electric car, the I-Pace, which will be manufactured in Austria.

But addressing political leaders and car industry bosses in the West Midlands, Dr Speth said the firm plans to make electric cars in Britain.

He added that he wanted to double output and ‘double the workforce’.

The vast majority of the extra vehicles – including the Land Rover Sport and Range Rover Evoque – would be produced at the firm’s plants across the West Midlands and Liverpool and exported worldwide.

Owned by Tata Motors of India, the firm employs 45,000 people around the world, 40,000 of them in the UK.

Dr Speth stressed its ambition to expand in the UK was ‘dependent on overcoming infrastructure and capacity issues’.

He said the firm needed the equivalent of four power stations and the ‘right legislative framework’ to develop its electric car plans, and for the fledgling industry to flourish in the UK.

A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said: ‘We cannot comment on quoted job numbers or a timeframe.’

November 25th, 2016: Daily Mail