Prime Minister Theresa May is in a double bind as she tries to navigate the politics of Brexit while keeping businesses on side: Even when she thinks she’s giving companies what they want, they say she’s made it worse. May is set to ask the European Union to let Britain keep access to its single market and customs union for a period after Brexit to help businesses adjust — but a Toyota Motor Corp. executive warned the increased uncertainty of a transition phase could force it to move production elsewhere.
May is preparing to deliver a speech outlining her current approach to the divorce. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond gave an insight into its contents by saying the government wants a “status quo” transition. Many business leaders share Hammond’s desire for a long, steady transition period, while others say the continually shifting sands underlying the UK’s Brexit policies will make it impossible to plan for the longer term. Toyota Executive Vice President Didier Leroy said there was a “strong need” for clarity on the shape of Brexit.
“We will not postpone a new product for three more years just because the negotiation is going to take three more years,” Leroy told Reuters in Frankfurt. “It’s clear that if we have to wait two to three more years to have a clarity on this topic, we will have a big question-mark about our future investment in the country.”
A subsequent statement from the company said it has “no imminent decision or change of stance” toward this business in Britain, although it added easy market access to the EU is vital for maintaining competitiveness. Speaking at the same event as Leroy, PSA Group Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares told reporters that he was impatient to get guidance on Brexit to make investment decisisons.