From Monday, November 4 and throughout the week, the manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover will not produce a single car in its factories in Castle Bromwich, Halewood and Solihull, and no engine in Wolverhampton, across the Channel. All his workers were assigned to maintenance tasks and training.
The week before, those at the BMW factory in Oxford had not worked during the night shifts on Thursday and all day Friday, while the Toyota plant in Burnaston had closed Friday 1st November.
Brexit: where are we? Key points, day after day
These measures were decided during the summer of 2019, when the risk of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) without agreement with the Twenty-Seven was strongly envisaged. For manufacturers, prevention was better than cure: the end of trade and customs agreements between the two neighbors would undoubtedly have led to a significant disruption of trade and supply circuits.
"I need 20 million components a day and that means I have to engage with my suppliers," was justified in September the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover. "I need all the parts available and I have to get them on time. "
Too late to change plans
Faced with the impossibility of storing as many parts in sufficient quantities over time, some have preferred to anticipate a production stoppage over a week, in order to then resume production continuously for as long as possible, including in case of non-production. agreement.
The formalization of the Brexit postponement to 31 January, which ruled out the risk of an exit from the EU without an agreement on 31 October, with all its inconveniences of delivery, was only made on Tuesday 29 October 2019. A time far too short for builders to change their plans.
In April 2019, many manufacturers had already stopped production, fearing a Brexit without agreement in the aftermath of March 29, the date originally planned for the exit of the United Kingdom. The losses caused by these shutdowns are in addition to the more than 570 million euros spent by the sector for "Mitigate the effect of an exit without agreement", more "Essential investments in new products and infrastructure have been suspended or even canceled due to uncertainty and fear of a Brexit without agreement", says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK manufacturers' organization.
This sector is not the only one affected, far from it. All the economic activity of the country seems affected. The indices of Purchasing Managers of Manufacture, Construction and Services, unveiled in early October 2019, are now all under 50 points, the threshold synonymous with contraction.
Brexit nullifies investment in UK car
The political situation should not reassure anyone. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had the time, and probably the required majority, to pass the necessary Brexit legislation by the end of November 2019. He chose to launch the country in a general election in order to "end 'uncertainty', he justified.
"A general election could bring some certainty but it does not rule out the specter of a Brexit without agreement, which will continue to limit the possibilities of British industry," yet warns SMMT boss Mike Hawes.