London: Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive issued an unusually frank warning to Prime Minister Theresa May, saying a bad Brexit deal could put tens of thousands of jobs at risk and cost the company more than £1.2 billion a year ($1.6 billion).

‘Brexit is due to happen on March 29 next year. Currently, I do not even know if any of our manufacturing facilities in the UK will be able to function on the 30th,’ Ralf Speth told an audience — including May — at a conference in Birmingham, England on Tuesday.

Speth warned that decisions were being taken by companies now that won’t be reversed — whatever the final Brexit outcome. The company, which employs more than 40,000 people in the UK, said the company’s losses in the event of a no-deal Brexit would wipe out its profit.

Free access to Europe’s single market is ‘as important a part to our business, as wheels are to our cars.’ Losing that would mean ‘the bureaucracy of a customs official becomes more important than the craft of an engineer,’ he said.

JLR has four plants in the UK that produce 3,000 cars a day, use 25 million components and are dependent on a ‘just in time’ schedule. Any delays would cost the company £60 million a day, according to Speth.

‘What decisions will I be forced to make, if Brexit means not merely that costs go up, but that we cannot physically build cars on time and on budget in the UK?’

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