Manufacturing Giant JCB: ‘Nothing to Fear’ from No Deal Brexit

Brexit
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JACK MONTGOMERY

The Chairman of JCB, one of Britain’s biggest manufacturers and exporters, has said there is “nothing to fear” from making a clean break with the EU in a so-called “No Deal” Brexit.

Writing to the Telegraph newspaper, company chairman Lord Anthony Bamford said that as the head of Britain’s “largest manufacturer of construction equipment”, with “decades of experience selling British-made equipment to WTO and EU countries”, he felt “compelled to say this about a no-deal Brexit: there is nothing to fear from trading under World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.”

EU loyalists in the United Kingdom have argued that “No Deal” would such a disaster for the British economy — with the country supposedly risking shortages of drinking water, medicine, pre-made sandwiches, and Mars bars, among other things — that it should be taken off the table entirely, and the public forced to vote again on whether or not to stay in the EU if Theresa May’s “worst deal in history” is not ratified by Parliament.

But Lord Bamford is evidently unimpressed by the claims, explaining: “Nearly three-quarters of what we manufacture in the UK is exported. Likewise, my company buys components from all over the world. Trading with Australia on WTO terms is as natural to us trading with Austria on [EU] terms.”

He added: “40 percent of JCB’s exports go to WTO countries, 27 percent go to EU countries. We import components worth over £250 million from WTO countries. This two-way trading arrangement happens every day as a matter of routine for JCB. It can work just as well for other British businesses.”

The top entrepreneur followed up this letter with a full column in The Sun newspaper, in which he argued that Britain’s future lies not with the Remain-supporting multi-nationals of the EU-funded Confederation of British Industry (CBI), but with the millions of small, family-owned businesses up and down the country.

“It is these firms that have made us a great trading nation, and the fifth largest economy in the world,” he observed.

“But there is a problem. The ‘voice of business’ heard in Whitehall is not the voice of business. It tends to be the voice of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which is dominated by the comfortable incumbents and large multi-nationals.”

The emergence of companies like JCB, which has its roots among family blacksmiths and remains in family ownership, is in Lord Bamford’s view now “rarer than it should be”, as the Government focuses on the demands of “the giants” rather than the “4.8million [small] firms  [which] employ 12.2 million people, or almost 40 per cent of workers — and pay enough tax to fund the entire NHS.”

He observed that the CBI corporations “might moan about regulation but they can afford to deal with it, knowing that it deters their smaller competitors.”

“They see Brexit, for example, in terms of costs, rather than opportunities. This is reflected in government,” he added.

“Theresa May’s approach to Brexit was safety-first, focusing on protecting the cross-border supply chains of the multi-nationals. Yet 88 percent of British firms do not export. Their main worries are to do with competition and regulation,” he explained.

“But regulation, in particular, is harder to address if we are still following European rules — as is striking new trade deals.”

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