Bosses at two industry federations have voiced their support for the concerns raised by five major manufacturing groups in what has been described as “an unprecedented backlash” over the government's plans for post-Brexit trading arrangements.
The BBC reported that it had seen extracts of a letter sent to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Brexit secretary Steve Barclay, and signed by representatives of the automotive, chemicals, food and drink, and pharmaceutical sectors. The aerospace industry body has already raised similar concerns.
The signatories warned of the damage that would be done to industry if regulatory alignment with the EU is not maintained.
BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold commented: “We work with all of those trade associations, and this is particularly important for industries with regulations, so for example food packaging is particularly affected.
“The whole reality of leaving the Common Market is that it will create some friction. It doesn’t help anyone trade and it’s difficult to conclude that it will be compensated by access to markets we don’t currently have access to,” Jarrold added.
“We still don’t know what’s happening and it’s two weeks before we are supposedly leaving.”
Andrew Large, director general at the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), said: “We are a very cross-Europe integrated industry. We are reliant on the free movement of everything, from people to machinery and pre-product to products. Anything that puts a barrier in the way of that is a problem.”
The group of five federations that have warned the government collectively employ more than one million people and contribute £98bn to the economy a year.
The CPI, together with the Food & Drink Federation, is holding two free events later this month focused on business continuity and Brexit readiness. The CPI will also release a video on the topic later this week.
The printing industry also uses chemicals that are currently subject to REACH regulations.