David Davis said on Monday (11 December) that Brexit will be a 'calm and orderly' process, at a round-table discussion with the UK's largest car manufacturers.
The discussion was hosted in London by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade association for the UK motor industry. It was attended by executives from several car makers such as JLR, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Aston Martin and BMW and executives of automotive related companies such as JCB, Caterpillar and GKN.
The secretary of state for exiting the European Union's promise is said to have come while discussing the sector's priorities for exiting the EU. One such priority that executives pressed on was said to be the importance of having a tariff-free access to European markets even after Brexit.
This follows SMMT stating in November that the UK motor industry faced a £4.5bn ($5.7bn) car tariff threat. It had then suggested that tariffs imposed by the EU on cars alone post Brexit could be at least £2.7bn annually to imports and £1.8bn to exports.
Apart from this promise, Davis is said to have said that the government would take a "data driven" approach to Brexit negotiations. He is said to have asked these executives for "quantification" of the risks to their businesses including "specific numbers" from potential foreign exchange risks and the impact of tariffs and customs.
Davis is said to have explained that knowing the exact impact trade barriers would have on the UK based automotive plants would allow "[the government] to weigh up the options going into negotiations [with the EU]".
However, at the end of the discussion, neither Davis nor other politicians who attended the discussion namely, John Hayes and Nick Hurd, are said to have made any commitments. According to the Financial Times, one of the executives who attended the meeting said the politicians were "very non-committal — they were in listening mode".
Commenting on the meeting, Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO, said in a statement, "Today's discussion were a good opportunity to meet with the government to reinforce the success and importance of UK automotive, and to highlight the specific priorities for our sector when leaving the European Union.
"Being part of the single market has helped make the UK automotive sector amongst the most competitive in the world and a critical part of the UK economy. It is essential that we maintain those benefits and we will work with government and our partners in Europe to ensure the global success of our sector continues in the future."