Tesla and the EU
On Friday I visited a leading a leading West Sussex manufacturer, Tesla Engineering, based in Storrington. Two years ago I was honoured to open a new factory at the firm which produces high technology superconducting magnets used in medical, scientific and industrial applications.
Tesla exports globally to countries including the USA, China and the EU, and now employs nearly 300 people. It’s a local manufacturing success story. And it has issued a stark warning that leaving the EU will hit investment and risks losing local jobs.
The directors have written to their staff and suppliers setting out their concerns about the impact of Brexit in the referendum on 23 June. They warn about trade barriers and customs obstacles, and they point out the value to the company of co-operation with European partners and research projects.
They warn that the implications for employment at Tesla could be significant and they also point out the value of the free movement of labour in the EU to enable them to recruit highly specialist skills. This is the flip side of the claims we hear about immigration and the EU.
The company’s letter deals a hammer blow to Brexit campaigners who claim that the UK could easily negotiate a tree deal to gain access to the EU’s single market, warning that there is no competitive advantage for Tesla being outside the EU.
Tesla is the latest West Sussex firm to raise concerns about Brexit after Goodwood-based Roll-Royce Motor Cars warned its employees last month about the risks of leaving the single market.
I believe that when important local employers like these speak out about the risks of Brexit we should sit up and listen. Tesla is exactly the kind of high-tech manufacturer which this country needs and which hugely benefits us in West Sussex. The last thing we should be doing is creating unnecessary risk to businesses like these and putting up trade barriers for our exporters.
Eight out of ten businesses back remaining in the EU. These are the job creators who have real concerns about the impact of Brexit. As the Chairman of Tesla, Dr Jim Ramage, told me: "Why take an unnecessary risk with jobs in Storrington and anywhere in the UK?”