SOLIHULL MP Julian Knight has been challenged to outline his position on the current Brexit crisis following the latest Jaguar Land Rover cutbacks.
Liberal Democrat councillor Ade Adeyemo has called on the Conservative MP to explain to residents where he stands, with a crucial parliamentary vote expected on the terms of leaving the European Union at the end of next month.
Following the announcement this week of a two-week shutdown in production at JLR’s Lode Lane factory, Coun Adeyemo spoke of the MP’s ‘deafening silence’ on Brexit and potentially huge JLR job losses.
JLR chief executive Ralf Speth has repeatedly warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit scenario.
In September Coun Adeyemo called for Mr Knight to ease concerns of job losses and speak up about JLR during Brexit negotiations.
This week Coun Adeyemo said in a press release: “So far, Julian Knight has said nothing about JLR since chief executive Ralf Speth announced that 10,000 job losses were on the cards.
“That so many jobs are under threat is a direct result of this Conservative government’s inability to come up with a coherent Brexit proposal that will help secure local jobs here in the UK.
“Julian Knight’s silence on this matter tells us loud and clear that he is more interested in dancing down the aisle with Theresa May than saving local jobs at JLR’s Lode Lane plant. Solihull deserves better than this.”
JLR has attributed on-going struggles to Brexit confusion, the falling sale of diesel vehicles and China slashing import tariffs. Job cuts to hundreds of agency staff came earlier this year.
While declining to be drawn directly on the councillor’s criticism Mr Knight released a statement saying: “JLR kindly contacted me at the time of this announcement to inform me that they were undertaking a temporary, short term closure due to overstocking.
“I am relieved that all members of staff will be paid during this fortnight closure.
“Undoubtedly the UK car industry is facing challenges at present, as across Europe there has been a 45 per cent decrease in sales of diesel vehicles. 93 per cent of the vehicles produced at our local plant are of the diesel variety.
“More generally, September new car registrations show a 20 per cent year-on-year fall compared to 2017.
“I am in constant contact with Jaguar Land Rover and represent the car industry strongly in Parliament, in particular encouraging a fair deal for diesel drivers.”
Mr Knight has repeatedly associated JLR’s difficulties to falling diesel sales and he wants to prioritise jobs in the transition to greener technology.
In July, he told us he would support a Brexit deal ‘which means as frictionless trade as possible with the EU’ to protect jobs in the borough. Solihull voted to leave the EU with 56 per cent of residents opting for Brexit. Mr Knight himself supported ‘remain’.
The luxury car manufacturer will bring operations to a temporary halt on Monday, October 22. No jobs will be affected and all workers will continue to be paid, the company says.