A hard Brexit leading to trade under World Trade Organization rules would cost Jaguar Land Rover £1.2 billion a year in tariffs, its Chief Executive Ralf Speth told the Financial Times.
He said the company, which is the U.K.s largest car manufacturer, needs certainty about the post-Brexit trading regime before it can decide on £80 billion in investment over five years in new models.
“I dont want to threaten anybody, but we have to make transparent the implications of the move. We want to stay in the U.K. Jaguar Land Rovers heart and soul is in the U.K.,” Speth told the outlet. “We have other options. If I do it here and Brexit goes in the wrong direction, then what is going to happen to the company?”
“At the end of the day were in a cycle plan that means I have to make a decision. I cant just wait, wait, wait, wait,” he added, saying the company already has spent £10 million on Brexit contingency planning.
“If Im forced to go out because we dont have the right deal, then we have to close plants here in the U.K. and it will be very, very sad,” he added.
The companys intervention in the Brexit debate comes two days before a key Cabinet meeting at the prime ministers Chequers country residence at which Theresa May will present a compromise customs plan to ministers. It is likely to strengthen the hand of those in the Cabinet who favor a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit.
Jaguar Land Rover employs around 40,000 people who make roughly 600,000 vehicles a year and supports an additional 300,000 jobs in the U.K. It exports £18 billion of goods a year and has invested £50 billion over the past five years. It has already moved production of its Discovery sport utility vehicle to Slovakia. In April it cut 1,000 jobs in the West Midlands, citing a slump in demand in the U.K. due to Brexit.