|Volume 49 Number 4, March 9, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
BMW, along with Toyota, Ford and Aston Martin, have stepped up the pressure coming from large multinational car manufacturers to influence developments regarding what kind of deal is or is not to be established with the EU after Brexit. The industry as a whole has become increasingly vocal over no deal as the March 29 deadline approaches.
In a political intervention, BMW declared this week that a no-deal could mean it ends production of the iconic Mini in Britain, moving it elsewhere in Europe.
Speaking to Sky News, BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer said if a "worst case" no-deal scenario happened, "we would need to consider what it exactly means for us in the long run".
"For Mini, this is really a danger," he added.
Asked if BMW could move Mini production out of Cowley near Oxford, he said: "We at least have to consider it."
Earlier, BMW chief executive Harold Krueger told the BBC that the carmaker was preparing "for a lot of scenarios" and was "very flexible" in its approach to production.
Likewise, van Zyl, head of European operations for Japanese multinational Toyota, said no deal could put at risk future investment in its Burnaston plant near Derby, where the firm employs 2,500 people.
He said it was vital that there was frictionless trade with the EU, the loss of which would block the company from constantly improving competitiveness.
Aston Martin's chief executive Andy Palmer this week talked of "a bloodbath" for the industry, while Ford warned that leaving without a deal would be "catastrophic". The body that represents the British motor industry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said investment had already been hit.
Neither are brinkmanship, imposition and intransigence on the part of the British government and EU nor fearmongering and threat-making on the part of big business any way to conduct international relations and trading arrangements.
The Mini brand has long since ceased to be a "British car". The Mini is built with steering wheels from Romania, headlights from Spain, rear lights from Poland and the crankshaft is from France. These components go to and fro between countries in a series of "just-in-time" transits. The monopolies demand arrangements that allow them to operate in this way with the motive of maximising profits according to the state of competition and considerations such as wages and government claims in various countries. The shifting conditions create their own contradictions and result, for example, in the argument for consolidating production at a single point. The monopolies also demand arrangements that facilitate them moving production wholesale from one country to another at will. Their considerations and the arrangements they create have nothing to do with establishing a system of trade and international relations based on mutual benefit and the needs of the interconnected socialised economies of individual countries and the world as a whole.
The question has to be asked: What right have BMW to move the production of the Mini elsewhere without consideration of the workers, region and the economy as a whole?
The demand should be that production continues in Oxford. Why should global business interests dictate? These businesses are powerful monopolies who demand arrangements that enable them to act at will. There is a real danger in workers becoming nonplussed at such rapid and damaging developments. On the one hand, the view is fostered that the issue is to just "get on with it" over Brexit, while on the other, divisions are entrenched and reaction and chauvinism are promoted. Either way, the level of politics is degraded to the lowest depths. Instead, the workers demand a say and to have control over matters that affect their lives, and the situation is such that their independent politics is what is missing and so desperately required.
No dictate from BMW!