With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) looming, pro-EU voices are already seeking to claim that pulling out of the EU would mean a loss of jobs within the UK. They say that one in ten jobs in Britain – about 3.5 million jobs in total – depend on being in the EU. But are they right, if we leave the European Union, will we lose the job creators?
According to analysis published this week, just eleven global engineering firms with sites in the UK provide Britain with nearly 90,000 jobs between them directly alone, and support hundreds of thousands of secondary jobs. The CEOs of those eleven firms have each made a clear commitment to keeping their business within the UK even in the event that the British people opt to leave the EU, allocating millions of pounds of investment to plants in the UK.
- Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, has announced it would remain in the UK following Brexit, the CEO Akio Toyoda told the Financial Times,“we want to deliver even better cars, so when that capsule is opened after 100 years, all can see we’ve built a truly British company.” Toyota employs 4,000 at its car plant in Burnaston and engine plant in North Wales.
- General Motors-owned Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has said, “We have plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. We will not turn our backs on England, life would carry on. We would continue to find ways to invest.” An Opel plant in Germany closed last year while GM invested £185m in its UK van manufacturing facility. Vauxhall employs 4,500 people in its two plants, plus a further 23,000 in its retail and UK supply chain (not included in overall figures).
- BMW-owned Mini announced a £250m investment in 2012 at its three UK plants to increase production, having announced an additional £500m for the latest Mini only the year before. Mini employs 5,600 people in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, and is one of the UK’s most productive manufacturers in the UK.
- BMW-owned Rolls Royce Motor Cars has dismissed the idea of relocating outside the UK. BMW CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told Reuters, “I’ve had lots of questions in my time in a way of why aren’t you opening up a plant somewhere else. I sad guys are you kidding me? This is so truly British that it belongs to Britain and it is also part of our success story that we are from Britain.” Rolls Royce directly employs more than 21,300 people in the UK, including over 12,000 at its Derby site, home to its Civil Aerospace and Submarine businesses as well as its car manufacturing business. Other key locations include Bristol, East Kilbride, Ansty, Barnoldswick, Inchinnan, Hucknall and Sunderland.
- Volkswagen-owned Bentley is committed to the UK. Board member for sales, Kevin Rose, has said, “We made our plans, we’ve announced the investments… and they were in full knowledge that there was a referendum so we believe in the UK” Bentley is the third largest automotive R&D investor in the UK, employing 3,600 people at its Pyms Lane site.
- Airbus has corrected claims it would cease investment in the UK. Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier said at the Paris Airshow he had “no intention” of pulling out in the event of Brexit. More than 4,000 people, including 2,000 engineers are employed at its Filton site.
- Jaguar Land Rover announced in March 2015 an investment of £600m in the west midlands including £400 for manufacturing the new Jaguar XF at Castle Bromwich and in September a further £120m in its Solihull plant – all despite the Brexit referendum being likely. Jaguar Land Rover, the country’s largest automotive business, has its headquarters in the UK and employs 25,000 of its 26,000 strong workforce within the UK, across five sites.
- Nissan announced in 2015 it would build its next generation Juke vehicle at its Sunderland plant in the UK, with £100m investment allocated. Nissan Chairman Paul Willcox said, “Nissan, obviously, is a global company. We export to over a hundred different countries from our production plant in Sunderland … the important point is not that referendum and the decision, whichever way that goes. Nissan had made a strong commitment to the UK so that won’t be pushed to one side, we have made that commitment, certainly beyond 2020.” Nissan employs a 6,700-strong workforce in Sunderland, many of whom are ex-miners and ship builders.
- Honda announced in 2015 a record £200m investment at Swindon – its only European factory – to produce a new five-door hatchback that would create a global manufacturing hub that would build a new five-door Civic. Honda employs around 3,400 people at its plant in Swindon
- Geely, the Chinese owner of the London Taxi Company has announced an investment of £250m to build a new Coventry plant creating 1,000 jobs to build a low-emission black cab.
- Ford announced in 2014 that it would invest £190m in Dagenham, and in 2015 a further £181m in its Bridgend engine manufacturing plant even though a Brexit referendum was on the cards. Ford employs 13,000 people in the UK.
Conclusively, the pro-Britain-in-the-EU arguments can be turfed out.
If you’re worried about businesses and job creators leaving Britain after Brexit, don’t. They won’t.