In a move that quite literally nobody could possibly have anticipated, BMW has revealed that a no-deal Brexit would probably have some kind of impact on what does and doesn't happen in British car factories. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member and head of MINI, has said the company is prepared to shift MINI engine production from England to Austria, AKA the EU somewhere, should the UK crash out of the EU in spectacular fashion on March 29.
It would be a disaster for Oxford and the UK. The plant survived Leyland and the strikes, massive issues with Rover and the transition to BMW and builds an iconic car. For it to close because of Brexit would be a crying shame. My city would be hit so badly.— Ed Byard (@oxfordteddy) March 6, 2019
BMW — which needs Britain more than Britain needs it — also needs to manufacture at least 55–60% of a vehicle inside the EU for it to benefit from a range of EU-brokered international trade perks. The looming possibility that Britain really could leave the European Union in a matter of weeks with no agreement reached about how its economy relates to Europe's and the world's has got international companies looking at contingency plans. In BMW's case, one such plan could be to move production to its factory in Steyr, to keep future MINIs' percentage of EU-made components above the required threshold.
BMW have announced today they are going to move engine production out of the UK bc of your Brexit plans you lying shit. pic.twitter.com/yaXLjHUdMe— Britgirl Explains Brexit ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) #FBPE (@MarieAnnUK) March 5, 2019
With Honda already pledging to shutter its UK factory by 2021, PSA-owned Vauxhall mooting the possibility of doing the same and Nissan scrapping plans to build the new X-Trail in England, BMW moving MINI production elsewhere would be a serious blow to British manufacturing. Casual onlookers were flabbergasted by the mere suggestion that the British auto industry, undeniably flourishing since the mid-1950s, could be floored by something as trivial as having a huge number of barriers put in the way of moving parts and vehicles into and out of the country.
These false threats from #EU carmakers should be met with a complete Boycott of All BMW & Mini Cars. Support carmakers that support the UK, rest can take a hike! Carmakers ramp up warnings over no-deal Brexit https://t.co/h0HU14Ba1n via @financialtimes— lee green (@Lee_Green_KMI) March 6, 2019
BMW's statement (by which I mean threat, of course) was met with the disgust it deserved. Right-thinking people tried and failed to think of any reason why a German, for-profit company wouldn't deal with the logistical and financial nightmare of operating in the UK with no UK–EU trade deal in place. Pledges were made to boycott BMW, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Vauxhall, and instead buy cars from any of the inumerable brands who support the UK, such as [BLANK], [BLANK] or Aston Martin — cars popular with people of all financial standings.
“Within minutes of a vote for Brexit the CEO’s of Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi will be knocking down Chancellor Merkel’s door demanding that there be no barriers to German access to the British market” - David Davis, 2016. https://t.co/Z3xBQZT5s8— Alan White (@aljwhite) March 5, 2019
Britain losing the iconic MINI brand would be big, whatever way you look at it. Schwarzenbauer, however, made it clear that the decision hasn't yet been made, and it's likely that a reasonable chunk of MINI production would remain in the UK even if engine assembly were moved elsewhere. No word yet on whether Austrian MINIs would keep using the Union Jack taillights, mind you.