THE UK must stay in the single market and customs union if business is to thrive, says a Green Party MEP.

Molly Scott Cato, who represents the South West in the European Parliament, made the comments while touring Swindon’s Honda plant yesterday.

Over the last year, Dr Scott Cato has been hearing from businesses across the South West that are concerned about the implications of leaving the single market and customs union.

Like many businesses, Honda have raised concerns about what happens post-Brexit and have called for a transition period that would see the UK retaining their current trading arrangements.

Honda bosses say this would enable the company to make the necessary changes to their operations and avoid a ‘cliff edge’ when the UK leaves the EU.

The MEP said: “I believe the best way to allay fears and boost business confidence is to remain members of both the single market and customs union.

“Almost half of UK exports in goods and services went to the EU in 2016, worth some £240 billion and per cent, while exports to non-EU countries rose by just 0.2 per cent. This is our key market; leaving it will clearly have a devastating impact on thousands of businesses.

“As to leaving the customs union, this would disrupt ‘just in time’ supply chains, with goods passing across currently open borders requiring time-consuming checks and additional paperwork.

“This would prove especially problematic for manufacturing businesses such as the car industry.”

It comes just two months after car giant Ford warned the government that failure to secure a deal with the EU would be “a disaster for the industry in general”.

Steven Armstrong, Ford’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, said: “I am very concerned, very worried. It’s important that we see a future in the UK that’s competitive.”

And earlier this week, we reported a Labour councillors fear that Swindon car makers could be hit be a massive fall in new car sales.

In light of this, Patrick Keating, Honda’s European government affairs manager, emphasised that, despite the challenges ahead, the company remains committed to the UK.

He said: “While Brexit certainly brings some challenges for our business, we are working hard with a wide range of stakeholders in the UK and Europe – such as Molly Scott Cato – to ensure that the right conditions for our business will be in place after the UK’s departure from the U.

“Honda remains committed over the long term to its sales and manufacturing activities in the UK and Europe, and to our aspiration for two thirds of our sales in Europe to be electrified by 2025 – five years in advance of our global plan.

“We welcome the fact that the Brexit negotiations are moving on to phase two and look forward to an EU – UK agreement that will deliver a barrier-free trading relationship, a clear plan for regulation and a migration system that allows us to access the skills and talent we need for growth.”