EU Referendum: What will happen to motorcycling if we leave?

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The case for staying 

According to Roger Willis, Industry Insider: 

Anybody who believes in-out referendum isn’t going to affect motorcycling had better think again — because it’s already generating uncertainties. And if we choose to jump ship, lots of good things will change — and a lot of bad things won’t.

Bike sales

UK new bike sales were up 12.7% last year. That good news continued into January 2016 with a 14.2% rise and February sales increased by an even better 24.8%. But on February 20, PM David Cameron announced his referendum and March, usually a boom month thanks to new-season reg plates kicking in, was only an anaemic 1.4% up — against 11.8% in March 2015. Showroom footfall is set to remain subdued until the dust settles after June’s ballot.

Import tax

Optimists say a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU would soon be in place but it may take another 10 years, leaving us with a worst-case scenario of falling back on World Trade Organisation customs duty rules. Exporters like our only major bike manufacturer,
Triumph, could then face tariffs of maybe 15% in Europe, making their products less competitive. And similar import duties imposed by our government to grab some muscle at FTA negotiating tables would knock foreign bikes, plus riding apparel and accessories, here.


Whole vehicle type approval and exhaust emissions compliance, now up to Euro4 and mounting, are similar unwanted legacy Euro-liabilities from which we have no escape. Manufacturers (including those in the UK) have to comply if they want to flog their wares in the rest of Europe and we’ll get the same stuff, without choice in the matter, despite Brexit.


In theory, once liberated from rabid Brussels bureaucracy, we’d have a chance to reform the messy licensing rules imposed by the European Commission. In practice, there’s slim chance of that happening. The DVLA was thoroughly consulted before signing up to this EC Directive without coercion. And motorcycle manufacturers actually like tiers as well, because it gives them an additional sell-through when customers eventually move on to bigger A-class bikes. So we’re stuck with it.  


Brexit would mean we become fully-paid-up Johnny Foreigners again and the basic rules will get more complicated and costly when visiting European Economic Area (EEA) countries – EU nations plus Norway and Switzerland.

The case for leaving

According to Steve Baker MP (Wycombe), Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Motorcycling:

Voting to remain will endorse the permanent control of the EU over our motorcycling laws. There will be nowhere you can vote to remove the people responsible for these rules. The safer choice is to vote leave, take back control and spend our money on our priorities.

Bike sales

Devoted remain campaigners are attributing every bit of bad news to referendum uncertainty but in January the Chancellor was blaming “a dangerous cocktail of threats” from the global economy. Don’t believe the scaremongers, especially the ones who have changed their tune. 

Import tax

We have long enjoyed motorcycles from manufacturers based outside the EU and that’s not going to change. Trade takes place every day in vast quantities without trade deals. Millions of jobs in Europe are connected to trade with the UK. It’s in everyone’s interests to keep the UK trading with Europe. That’s why we will get a good deal after we vote to end the supremacy of EU law.  


It is true that mass manufacturers will wish to comply with the smallest number of standards. That’s why it’s important to set minimum environmental standards for vehicles globally and we should be fully represented in our own right at the relevant bodies.


If we vote to remain, you the voter will have no power over who makes these rules. If we leave and take back control, your vote and voice will count. If we are in the EU, our objections to licensing rules will continue to be bargaining chips in negotiations over other objectives. That’s a poison in our political system which we can’t draw unless we leave.


Our common travel area with the Republic of Ireland is a legacy of our shared history, which has nothing to do with the EU. There would be no need to require tourist visas for European citizens and no need for European nations to require them from us. Expect no change.

Riding abroad

It’s simply hysterical to suggest we will need International Driving Permits. I’ve personally hired cars in the USA for years on just my UK driving licence, so why would the EU choose to go back decades? As EU members, we already comply with EU requirements.

Find out what manufacturers say on the Eu Referendum here.

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