Accepting such products would provoke public anger in Britain. Whatever the gains from a trade deal with the United States, they would not compensate for the likely loss of sales to Europe.
“The E.U. is a big market, it’s very close, and we are completely integrated with it,” says Andrew Goodwin, chief United Kingdom economist for Oxford Economics in London.
Britain’s auto industry generates annual revenue of 82 billion pounds (about $107 billion) and employs about 800,000 people, according to Deloitte, the global accounting firm. Those jobs are highly dependent on unimpeded trade across the English Channel.
Some 60 percent of car parts and accessories made in British factories are exported to Europe, while plants on the Continent are the source of 80 percent of imported car parts in Britain. Eight out of every 10 cars made in Britain are exported, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, a trade group.
Inside a factory in Shrewsbury, a town famed for its medieval streets, SDE Technology operates towering presses that pound metal into desired shapes, deriving 70 percent of its revenue from making auto parts.
As the company’s chief commercial officer, Christopher Greenough, walks the concrete floors of the plant, he stops at a crate full of curved pieces of stainless steel, part of a car exhaust pipe. The factory sells this product to a company in Germany that supplies BMW.