Manufacturing firms ‘in despair over Brexit impasse’

Manufacturers are in despair at the “unacceptable failure” of politicians to break the impasse over Brexit, a business leader has warned.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 5:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 5:16 pm
Each day without progress is another drain on industry in the UK

Tom Crotty, group director of Ineos and chairman of the CBI’s Manufacturing Council, said businesses were increasingly putting off investment.

The CBI’s latest industrial trends survey showed growth in manufacturing in the quarter to March was at its weakest for almost a year.

The survey of 358 manufacturers showed strong exports, while total order books had “softened”.

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Output volumes grew in sectors including food, drink and chemicals, but the main “drags” on growth were said to be in mechanical engineering, paper and printing, and cars and trucks.

“The manufacturing sector has slowed again this month and is now barely growing,” said CBI head of economic intelligence Anna Leach.

“Brexit uncertainty is one of the biggest threats to growth in the manufacturing sector - both current and future - as firms prioritise stockpiling goods over investing in the future of their business.

“It is essential that politicians eliminate the threat of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in order to alleviate manufacturers’ fears of border delays, ruptured supply chains and tariffs on exports to the EU.”

Mr Crotty said: “Manufacturers are in despair at the unacceptable failure of politicians to end the Brexit impasse.

“Every day that goes by without a resolution results in more businesses putting off investment and stockpiling goods in order to soften the blow from a potentially disastrous ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

“It is crucial that Brexit uncertainty is lifted as a matter of urgency. Only then can manufacturers begin to move forward and shift our attention on to resolving the long-term challenges facing the sector - such as solving our skills challenge and raising productivity.”