LONDON -- Automakers with UK operations will not face a regulatory cliff-edge that damages their competitiveness in European markets at the end of 2020, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government.
Nadhim Zahawi, a business minister, said he is "confident" British negotiators will be able to broker a deal with the European Union which ensures no tariffs or quotas on car parts and keeps just-in-time supply chains running when the 11-month Brexit transition period is due to expire at the end of the year.
Opposition politicians have warned Britain faces a no-deal divorce on Dec. 31, disrupting trade and damaging the economy, if Johnson fails to negotiate a free trade deal by then.
EU leaders have said there is not time to broker a full agreement under the prime minister's schedule for ending the transition, during which trading rules will largely be unchanged.
"Those who are fighting the old battles of Leave/Remain still have this binary view of the world of 'oh my goodness, if we can't get a deal there is going to be a cliff-edge' -- I don't believe that is true," Zahawi said in an interview.
"The heads of terms agreed by the UK and the EU say there are no tariffs, no quotas, and that is what we are going to strive for. And that, I believe, we will be able to deliver," he said.
The UK auto industry suffered a number of blows in 2019 as production slumped and automakers idled plants to cope with three Brexit deadlines that came and went.
Jaguar Land Rover has said it will cut thousands of jobs, while Honda said it will close its only British factory in 2021 and Nissan scrapped plans to build the X-Trail SUV in Sunderland, northeast England.
PSA Group has suggested its Vauxhall factory in England's Ellesmere Port is in jeopardy if Brexit affects profitability.