Germany's BMW has reportedly written to the British employees who make its luxury Rolls-Royce car to warn about the risks the firm will face if Britain votes to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum. As Sonia Legg reports, it comes as economic data suggests the prospect of a possible Brexit has started to impact the UK economy.
British workers have been successfully building German-owned cars for years. But a new letter reportedly sent to staff at Rolls-Royce by BMW management has raised a few eyebrows. It outlines the risks of a Brexit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF THE SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS (SMMT), MIKE HAWES, SAYING: "What companies are trying to do is inform staff of their company position. Now businesses do not get a vote but people will make a decision based on political issues social issues and business issues. 800,000 people in the UK are employed in automotive so that is a lot of livelihoods that depend on it." Mike Hawes is CEO of Britain's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. A survey of its members shows more than three-quarters think an EU exit will damage business. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF THE SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS (SMMT), MIKE HAWES, SAYING: "They like the access to a huge market of over 500 million people, they like the fact that given we have some big skills gap in the UK automotive, that when you can't fill those skills vacancies in the UK you can bring people in freely from abroad." Plenty of Brits don't agree. And that sent shivers through the boardrooms of the country's dominant service sector last month. Growth hit a three year low - and data compilers Markit warned for the first time the prospect of referendum was denting business expectations. Charles Stanley's Chief Economist Jeremy Batstone-Carr. SOUNDBITE (English) CHARLES STANLEY, CHIEF ECONOMIST, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "The uncertainty surrounding the result of the referendum is rather similar to the uncertainty surrounding the Scottish referendum ahead of that particular vote and that I suspect is having an adverse impact on confidence." BMW's warning will be welcomed by the Prime Minister who wants to stay in the EU - the economic data won't be.