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James Litton: Finally, a big political issue we can agree on

Time 9:29 am, June 3, 2016

THERE is always one subject in any marriage which is strictly off-limits. 

Mostly, this dangerous ground relates to a former partner or perhaps sporting allegiances, but in the case of my wife and I, politics is definitely a no-fly zone.

My wife is an English teacher in a state secondary school, the location of which will never be found in one of those ‘ten most desirable places to live’ league tables you see regularly in the Sunday papers. I was born in 1978 and without question label myself as a Thatcherite child.

You can see, therefore, that when strike ballot papers appear on the hall mat or another global corporation gets pilloried for paying minimal tax, that we just agree to keep our thoughts to ourselves and keep the good people at Relate out of it.

However, I predict one day in the very near future that our political paths will cross like some once-in-a-lifetime astronomical phenomenon.

The subject that unites us is Brexit. My wife, a champion of human rights, equality and fairness, supports the stay vote. As a lover of money, opportunity and commercial advantage, I also will be voting to stay.

There were more than 1.5 million cars made in the UK last year. Whilst moving these plants to other parts of Europe would take years, car manufacturing represents one of the few production industries in which we are seen as a global power. If Europe breaks up as an economic entity, car manufacturers will move much further afield.

The retail motor industry also has a lot to lose. Consumers are a fickle bunch. Big change equals uncertainty and the retail public does not like uncertainty.

Car changes will get pushed back a year. Services will be pushed back a few months. People could start using part-worn tyres. Cost-saving measures will be employed until the sense of normality returns.

The cost of borrowing will no doubt rise given the likelihood of the national credit rating taking a tumble.

Given the gearing of many dealer groups, reduced demand coupled with increased borrowing costs could
lead to some casualties.

Whilst immigration is often the poster child for the Brexit campaigners, there are many hard-working Eastern Europeans who are employed within our industry.

The skill and work ethic these people demonstrate are not easily replaceable. And no, this article was not paid for by any political party…

Who is James Litton? James is general manager – director of Volvo Cars Poole. He always has something to say about the industry he loves.

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