UK on brink of EU trade war as Badenoch ramps up pressure to block Brexit tariff

Question Time audience ‘We haven’t started Brexit yet – when’s it going to start?’

The UK appears to be on the brink of a trade war with the European Union, as Kemi Badenoch is ramping up pressure on the bloc to ease new Brexit trade rules.

The Business Secretary is attempting to save electric vehicle manufacturers on both sides of the Channel from being hit by new Brexit trade rules in 2024.

Rishi Sunak’s Government has been warned that a post-Brexit “cliff edge”, arriving in January 2024, threatens the UK’s electric car industry.

The new rules of origin, which will require car makers to build more batteries in the UK, have been described as an “existential threat” by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It has called for the UK to strike a deal with the EU to delay the new rules until 2027.

Most Electric Vehicle batteries are supplied by China.

Changes set to come into force in 2024 – signed as part of the Brexit deal – dictate that 45 percent of an electric car’s value should originate in the UK or EU to qualify for trade without tariffs.

Britain and the EU are currently holding negotiations on the issue following warnings from carmakers on both sides of the channel that the new rules will seriously dent cross-channel sales and production.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes called for a three-year delay, last week saying: “There is huge potential for growth, and that growth is now at risk from tariffs.”

Mr Hawes told his organisation’s annual conference: “We’re saying basically suspend that requirement, and just let the regulation that’s currently in place flow through to 2027, which is the next threshold.”

He added: “We need to make sure those [tariffs] aren’t applied.

“We can’t afford to have a last minute, 31 December agreement, because business needs to plan its volumes.”

Ms Badenoch told the conference that she had “heard very loud and clear the issues on rules of origin” and would raise it with Brussels.

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She is understood to be ramping up pressure on the EU to delay or scrap the rules.

But according to Politico, Brussels’ top diplomat in London, Pedro Serrano, is telling people privately it may be difficult to avoid the coming post-Brexit cliff-edge this year.

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