Our Brexit-related poll echoed the EU referendum in that it gave Engineer readers an in/out option in relation to Britain remaining in some form of Customs Union.
Like the referendum, the turnout was high (845 respondents) and the result was close. Unlike the referendum, we did provide a third option for that all important vote in the form of ‘neither of the above’ (16 per cent).
Of the remaining 84 per cent, 43 per cent agreed to negotiating a new treaty replicating the Customs Union, and 41 per cent who opted to leave it.
Comments on the poll have been dominated by those wanting out of the EU and the Customs Union that comes with membership of it, prompting AnActualEngineer to ask: “Is this the Engineer or a UKIP/Daily Mailer Readers forum? Most of the previous commentators clearly have no idea how the EU works, no knowledge of international trade, or of the actual workings of the UK economy.”
Mohammed Abdullah queried whether The Engineer is the right forum for a debate on Brexit, a view backed up by MickM who said: “I sincerely hope that The Engineer…[is] not using a public platform to stoke up discontent with the result of a democratic process with which they may not agree.”
Let’s look at this from the point of view of the automotive sector, which accounts for thousands of direct and indirect engineering jobs in Britain.
The Irish Examiner reports today that Steven Armstrong, Ford’s president of EMEA, told the BBC that any barriers to products crossing borders would inhibit the way the firm operates and that he wants some sort of Customs Union, or at least tariff-free trade.
Last week’s good news from Toyota Motor Europe (TME) – that the third generation Auris will be produced at its Burnaston plant – came with a caveat from Dr Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of TME, that ‘free and frictionless trade must continue between the UK and Europe’.
A select committee report from last week warns that the automotive sector risks losing thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds of inward investment if government proceeds with a hard Brexit.
There may well be positive outcomes from exiting the EU, but until that happens The Engineer will continue to listen to – and report – the concerns of senior figures at the sharp end of the Brexit process.