UK car lobby warns Johnson against no-deal Brexit

Business

Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, holds his first Cabinet meeting, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid and Secretary for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd, right, at Downing Street in London, Thursday July 25, 2019. Johnson held his first Cabinet meeting Thursday as prime minister, pledging to break the Brexit impasse that brought down predecessor Theresa May.(Aaron Chown/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s car industry urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal, warning it would present an “existential threat” to the sector.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders wrote the newly installed leader to underscore the importance of the 18.6 billion-pound ($23 billion) industry.

The letter from Chief Executive Mike Hawes said a no-deal Brexit “would result in huge tariff costs and disruption that would threaten production.”

“We need a deal with the EU that secures frictionless and tariff free trade,” he said. “No-deal Brexit is simply not an option.”

Less than 100 days before Britain’s scheduled Oct. 31 withdrawal date, the government doesn’t have an approved agreement on the terms that will replace the 45 years of frictionless trade that came with being an EU member.

Johnson, who took office Wednesday, has pledged to take the country out of the 28-nation-trading bloc on schedule, with or without a deal.

He says a deal is only possible if the EU agrees to big changes to the withdrawal agreement it struck with his predecessor, Theresa May, which was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament.

EU leaders say they will not amend the deal. Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said Friday that Johnson was putting himself on a “collision course” with the bloc.

Johnson has spoken by phone with EU leaders including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but so far has no scheduled face-to-face talks.

The German government said Merkel invited Johnson to visit Berlin soon, but didn’t give a date. French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin said Macron and Johnson would meet in the coming weeks to discuss Brexit.

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