Aston Martin says Brexit threatens Britishness

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Brexit risks destroying the perception of Britishness abroad, says the executive vice-president of Aston Martin.

Mark Wilson said that the way Britain handles leaving the European Union could affect the way British brands are viewed, and a difficult Brexit could have a detrimental effect.

Speaking to the UK Middle Market Forum, Wilson said: "On the kick plate of your Aston it says 'Made in England'. That's something we're extraordinarily proud of, and it's something that we hold very, very dear.

"Not destroying that essential Britishness — openness, tolerance, welcoming — not destroying that is as important as worrying about whether it's going to be eight per cent or 10 per cent on a tariff barrier."

Although Aston Martin is part-owned by German manufacturer Daimler and an Italian private equity firm, it is based in Britain and is seen around the world as a British brand.

"Our strategy, our mission statement, has at the front of it to become the great British car company," he said. "So Britishness is extraordinarily important to what we do. There is absolutely a concern that that Britishness can be hijacked, it can be taken away from the centrist ground of what people have always understood Britishness to be . . . and it can be hijacked by either side of the political debate."

He said that he was worried that a hard Brexit would slow down the movement of cargo between the UK and Europe as vehicles become stuck in ports "waiting for some guy with a clipboard to tick it through."

Wilson said his concerns came from the fact that in his dealings with ministers he had found them poorly prepared for Brexit negotiations.