France Brexit threat: Carmaker PSA threatens to close factory over Boris's no deal plan

“Honestly, I would prefer to put the Astra car in Ellesmere Port, but if the conditions are bad and I cannot make it profitable then I have to protect the rest of the company and I will not do it. We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port,” Mr Tavares said. Before adding: “We need visibility on customs for parts coming from continental Europe or from the rest of the world and we need visibility on the customs for cars coming out of the UK to continental Europe. Those are the only things we need – everything else we’ll take care of.” The Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire employs some 1,000 people, who all risk losing their jobs in the event of a no-deal divorce. 

This is not the first time PSA has warned against a no deal exit. Last month, the automaker said the decision to build its next generation of the Astra in the UK “will be conditional on the final terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union”. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, below, has repeatedly stressed he would be willing to go through with a no deal Brexit on October 31, the scheduled divorce date. 

Mr Johnson is seeking to force the EU to give way to his Brexit demands by ramping up preparations for the UK to leave the bloc in three months, deal or no deal. 

He nudged Britain closer to a no deal scenario on Monday after insisting he would not hold Brexit talks with EU leaders unless Brussels agrees to reopen the existing withdrawal agreement.

He told reporters in Scotland that while he still hoped to get a new deal, the government had to prepare for a no deal exit.  

The EU agreed the current divorce pact with ex-prime minister Theresa May, but it was soundly rejected three times by parliament, namely over the controversial insurance policy for the Irish border.  

Designed to avoid the return of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the so-called “backstop” clause is the key sticking point in efforts to ensure an orderly Brexit. 

Under the mechanism, the UK will remain in a customs union with the EU “unless and until” alternative arrangements are found to avoid a physical border. 

But politicians have spurned the clause, arguing that being bound to EU rules and custom duties would prevent London from striking its own trade deals. 

EU leaders, for their part, have repeatedly refused to reopen negotiations on the deal or remove the border backstop. 

Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Alison Donnelly, repeated later on Monday he would not agree to negotiations unless Brussels lifts its refusal to change the divorce deal and abandon the backstop. 

“He remains confident that the EU will stop claiming that the withdrawal agreement can’t be changed,” she said.

But if they don’t, “we must assume there will be no deal on October 31.” 

Mr Johnson is also heading for a showdown with parliament, which is fiercely opposed to a no deal Brexit. 

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