The representative group for manufacturers is calling on the government to reject a "no deal is better than a bad deal" approach to Brexit, warning the UK’s manufacturing sector would bear the brunt.
This week Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50. However, the Institute for Government - a charity working to increase public sector effectiveness - has said that May will only have 12 months for "substantive negotiations".
EEF is today warning that loss of access to both the single market and the customs union would "condemn the manufacturing sector to a painful and costly Brexit" saying the notion of a "no deal is better than a bad deal" is "unacceptable".
It said the sector would be particularly vulnerable to a hard Brexit, as 52 per cent of all manufactured exports by value went to the EU in the 12 months to April 2016.
Terry Scuoler, chief exec of the EEF, said: "The idea of being able to walk away empty-handed might be a negotiating tactic, but it would in reality deliver a risky and expensive blow. The rhetoric from the UK government needs to focus instead on achieving a deal that will work for the UK and the EU."
He said: “It is going to be tough, but we must focus on developing a strategic approach that aims to preserve frictionless trade while building a launch-pad from which the UK can secure ever more ambitious deals from around the world.
"Obtaining fully fledged WTO membership is key, alongside a clear and well-considered UK position on customs arrangements and a sensible transition period. Together these would provide businesses with some much-needed certainty on which to base their own plans.”
To mitigate the impact on UK manufacturing, EEF wants the government to engage in close consultation with industry to set out the general approach, determine the right objectives and identify commercially significant issues spinning out from the negotiations. ®