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BMW and no deal

BMW’s commitment to electric Mini production at Cowley and Swindon is a welcome confirmation of its wish to maintain a major production presence in the UK.

But the warning bells are ringing loudly in the background.

The Government’s approach to the negotiations with the EU for our future trade relationship indicates that customs checks at the ports are likely and the UK will not align its product security standards with Europe.

Both imply substantial additional costs for the Mini plant that will prejudice future investment in the UK.

BMW and other large UK-based car producers and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, have issued a clear warning that a hard or no-deal Brexit will pose a medium-term existential threat.

The additional production costs and possible WTO tariffs will wipe out or severely reduce the possibility of continued profitable production.

But government is now explicitly telling business and industry that frictionless trade is no longer an option on the table and business must plan on the assumption that it will cease.

It is very hard to believe that BMW would now be going ahead with electric production at Cowley and Swindon if it had thought that no deal was the probable final outcome.

But the government is now doing its utmost to persuade everyone that it positively wants to steer the UK towards the no-deal cliff edge.

BMW Swindon and Cowley are not at immediate risk. But BMW have consistently made it clear that a hard or no-deal Brexit would be likely to lead to a scaling down of its UK activity, with major impacts on local jobs and economies, in Swindon, Oxford (and Birmingham as well).

We owe it our community in Swindon to look hard at the facts and do what we can to avert an imminent economic disaster with massive social and economic consequences.

It is time for us all to speak out, loud and clear.

Dr Sam Hollings, Dr Adam Poole, Steve Rouse, Swindon for Europe

Take virus seriously

I know columnists are meant to provoke the reader, but Graham Carter’s column on Monday 9th March, in which he appeared to be advocating that we ignore the Chief Medical Officer’s advice to stop shaking hands to prevent the spread of corona virus overstepped the mark and was irresponsible in the extreme.

Graham may feel that he personally and his family are not at serious risk from this virus, but many others who are elderly, have health problems or reduced immunity are not so fortunate.

I also believe he is quite wrong to assume that everyone is practicing good hygiene and washing their hands regularly.

From what I and others have witnessed, this is not the case.

Who can say that by shaking hands Graham will not inadvertently pick up this virus and then transmit it to someone who is too frail to withstand it?

How would he feel if they then died?

This sounds extreme, but we have to take this virus seriously and take all possible measures to contain it.

Anne Bennett, Address supplied

Guide Dogs thanks

Swindon Guide Dogs would like to thank everyone who attended our Great British Classics Charity Night on Monday 9th March 2020 at The Crown in Stratton.Through your generosity we managed to raise £1091 which is a terrific amount.Thanks also go to Danielle, Tanya and the rest of the staff for their help and support.

Alan Fletcher, Swindon Guide Dogs

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