JCB's Lord Bamford said Britain's exit from the European Union may see tariffs return but positives would prevail and British business was adaptable enough to survive.

Bigger threats to UK trade than Brexit - JCB Lord says

Construction and agricultural equipment king, Lord Anthony Bamford of JCB fame says any tariffs imposed on British manufacturers and exporters following the country’s exit from the European Union, would not be “the end of the world”.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Bamford said it would be “helpful” if zero tariff trade continued but tariffs and import duties are not “alien concepts” for exporting companies.

He said currency fluctuations played a far bigger threat to business.

“I remember trading with France, Germany and the Benelux long before we joined the common market,” Lord Bamford said.

“Tariffs and import duties were simply part and parcel of doing business with Europe back then.

“They were not a concern or a threat to British business, unlike currency fluctuations,” he said.

“A weakening deutschmark against the pound could do a lot more damage than any tariff or import duty.”

The EU’s current zero tariffs did not mean companies operated on a level playing field and that “hidden barriers” existed he told the House.

“Farm tractors must comply with at least 10 individual - and different - pieces of national road legislation, at great cost to my business, in the likes of Germany, Italy, and certain other EU markets.

“This is just one example of many that proves that the single market has not created a level playing field.”

He said while tariffs may be the price the UK had to pay to leave the EU then “so be it” but he hoped common sense would prevail.

Lord Bamford said if World Trade Organisation rules were to apply after Brexit, “the EU would lose out much more than the UK even though this would apply a tariff of four per cent to certain types of UK-built machinery.

“Of course, similar tariffs would be levied on equivalent products imported into the UK from EU countries,” he said.

British business’ adaptability would see it through, he said.

“They adjust very quickly to changes in the trading environment, so rest assured they would take tariffs in their stride.

“If tariffs are the price that we have to pay to secure free trade agreements with the rest of the world, I think it is a price worth paying.”

He said Europe would continue to be an important market, but the EU’s role in the world economy is shrinking and will continue to shrink further.

“That is why regaining control of how we trade with the rest of the world is so important,” Lord Bamford said.

Prior to the Brexit vote, Lord Bamford urged JCB employees to vote to leave.