Big Manufacturing Debate: The European Question

THE UK runs the risk of potentially losing future developments by leading manufacturing groups should the country look to quit the EU.

The warning was conveyed by businesses taking part in The Big Manufacturing Debate, an initiative organised by international law firm Squire Patton Boggs in collaboration with

During the debate at Warwick Manufacturing Group, panellists taking part in the discussion were asked if they thought the UK would be better or worse off as a result of being in the EU.

Juergen Zahl, managing director of Coventry-based automotive supplier Brose UK – a leading supplier to Jaguar Land Rover – said if the country was to quit the EU then there would undoubtedly be risks to manufacturers, especially those involved in the complex supply chains.

“It’s clear to us that we are competitive in the UK. But Jaguar Land Rover has just announced that it will be setting up a new plant in Slovakia so there is a risk that the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) will switch production to other regions,” he said.

“For us it is a significant advantage to stay in the UK.”

(See Video below)

Dr Richard Hutchins, Director of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers and Director of JLR Programmes, said there would be some “very significant downsides” if the UK was to quit the EU.

“Things would be in danger of starting to crumble,” he said.Squire Patton Boggs

“In my opinion we could do without another seismic shock. It would be wrong to destabilise the reasonably even keel the UK now finds itself on.”

Richard Halstead, regional director of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said surveys conducted among its members had shown a cooling off amongst firms for remaining in the EU.

He said a survey conducted last year had found that 85% of members wanted to see a strong and stable EU.

However, more recent studies had shown a marked decline in this.

“We think it is because businesses are sitting on the fence and we need to convey that the uncertainty is not doing anyone any good,” he said.

The consensus amongst the panellists was that the sooner the EU referendum was dealt with then the sooner levels of uncertainty would begin to subside.

In advance of the debate, Squire Patton Boggs, in partnership with, conducted a comprehensive survey gauging the opinion of manufacturers not just in the West Midlands, but in Yorkshire and the North West.

The results provided a clear picture of the manufacturing sector, the companies operating within it and the challenges they face.

To read the survey, click here
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