Vehicles made and approved in the UK could no longer be sold in the EU if Britain crashes out without a deal, a shock government document admits.
EU “type-approval” would no longer be granted to prove the vehicles “comply with safety and environmental standards”, it warned.
Manufacturers would need to seek approval from an authority in an EU member state – if such an agreement could be struck.
The document says that, if there is a no-deal Brexit, the government would act unilaterally to ensure EU-made cars could still be bought in this country, by recognising approvals.
But it acknowledges that Brussels might no longer be willing to consider the UK’s Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) as an appropriate body for sales in the EU.
“In a no deal scenario, type-approvals issued in the UK would no longer be valid for sales or registrations on the EU market,” the document reads.
“This means that affected manufacturers would need to ensure that they have the correct type-approval for each market.”
And it adds: “VCA would continue to act as a technical service for the purpose of testing for UK type-approvals. However, it may no longer be recognised as a technical service by EU type-approval authorities.”
This week – at a conference attended by the prime minister – the chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover warned of the “horrifying” consequences of a hard Brexit, costing the company £1.2bn a year.
Ralf Speth said: “Brexit is due to happen on the 29 March, next year. Currently, I do not even know if any of our manufacturing facilities in the UK will be able to function on the 30,” he warned.
Gareth Thomas MP, a Labour MP and supporter of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group, as “another unnecessary blow to the country’s car industry”.
“Crashing out with no-deal could mean the future of UK car exports to the EU could hang in the balance, damaging an industry filled with thousands of high skilled job,” he warned.
“This no deal scenario cannot be seriously considered as an option when we know how much is at stake.”
However, the department for transport said it was “incorrect” to say UK-made cars could not be sold in the EU after a no-deal Brexit, insisting manufacturers would be able to apply to an EU approval authority.
“The deciding factor is whether they obtained their EU type approval in the UK or an EU member state, not where they are manufactured,” a spokeswoman said.
The situation is another example of how the government’s “no deal” preparations would in fact involve trying to strike a series of separate micro-agreements with the EU, to head off huge damage.
Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary has written to the EU to propose what he called “no deal deals”, if the need arises – but Brussels had previously rejected such an approach.