Carmakers will LEAVE Britain if the government fails to offer financial support for the switch to electric, industry leader warns
- Jeremy Hunt said the UK will not compete with the EU or the US green package
- Aston Martin’s boss warns that car firms would leave the UK without the support
Carmakers could leave Britain if ministers fail to follow America and the European Union in helping with financial support for the switch to electric, an industry grandee warned yesterday.
Andy Palmer, the former boss of Aston Martin, said it was ‘probable’ that car firms would leave the UK without a huge subsidy package similar to the billions of pounds of support the US is providing.
Mr Palmer, now chairman of electric battery firm InoBat and who also held a senior role at Nissan, said the sector was facing the ‘last throw of the dice’.
It came as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the UK will not try to compete with the EU or US President Joe Biden’s $369billion (£298billion) green package. The policy will see subsidies given to US businesses producing greener technologies such as electric vehicles and renewable energy.
Mr Hunt said that the UK approach to try to attract investment ‘will be different – and better’, and that this was ‘the British way’.
‘We are not going toe-to-toe with our friends and allies in some distortive global subsidy race,’ he told The Times newspaper. ‘The long-term solution is not subsidy but security.’
No10 doubled down on the comments, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman saying that the UK did not need to ‘enter a subsidy race, because the UK has a head start with over a decade of green investment’. He added: ‘We would say we have acted in advance of the US in terms of our approach to reducing our carbon emissions.’
Rishi Sunak did not echo Mr Hunt’s language of the ‘distortive’ impact of the US subsidy package, stressing the benefits of the UK’s approach to green technology.
Asked about the UK’s own strategy during a visit to Oxfordshire, he said: ‘People should be really proud of the UK’s track record on all of this.
‘We’ve decarbonised faster than any other major economy. Our carbon emissions have been reduced by over 40 per cent, much more than all the other countries that we compete with.’
Mr Palmer said the industry was under threat without a support package at home to help manufacturers compete with those in Europe and the US.
He told the BBC that the UK car sector was already ‘managing decline’ and had a ‘last opportunity’ to boost the sector in the move to electric vehicles.
He said failing to create subsidy packages like those announced in the US and being consulted on by the EU would probably see manufacturers go elsewhere.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Either you compete… or you manage the decline of the British industry down to fundamentally next to zero.
‘We have the last throw of the dice in order to bring back some part of that industry, [or] we have to look for alternative employments for the 820,000 people.’