A CALL to ensure UK automotive jobs are protected against the challenges of Brexit has been made by a Witney company.

GSM Automotive, in Avenue One, has revealed it will delay further investment in its UK operation and intends to relocate some of its production to its Poland plant this year.

The company, which employs 153 people at its Witney site, urged Witney MP Robert Courts to help ensure negotiations to withdraw from the EU do not result in crippling tariffs being placed on the industry.

GSM wants an agreement with the EU which will maintain membership of the single market and customs union.

Chief executive Andrew Farthing highlighted the industry’s fears about the likely impact on his business.

He said: “We met with Mr Courts to express our concerns for the future of the UK automotive industry and to call on him to help us to retain frictionless access to the single market.

“Our industry accounts for 13 per cent of all UK exports. It employs 169,000 people directly and 814,000 across the wider automotive industry.

“The automotive industry is an important contributor to the UK economy and we’re looking for Mr Courts to be a strong voice in Westminster.”

GSM has manufacturing sites outside the UK and the company says it needs to ensure the free flow of goods between its plants.

Investment in the UK Automotive Industry has fallen from £2.5bn in 2015 to £1.1bn in 2017.

Mr Courts said: “Whilst negotiations are ongoing, it is a positive step that the Government agreed a transition agreement with the EU last month, which will see the UK maintain membership of the single market and customs union until a final agreement is reached and implemented.

“This gives valuable stability for businesses as the Government continues to work towards a frictionless trade agreement.”

He stressed that negotiations are still ongoing, adding: “I am clear in my commitment to our global businesses in Witney; we all hugely value what they bring to our area.

“I look forward to working with West Oxfordshire’s businesses to overcome short term uncertainty, and to seize opportunities to adapt and grow. We all want to ensure that West Oxfordshire remains a home for world-leading companies. I will work continue to work alongside everyone to achieve that.”