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Labour accuses Boris Johnson of 'betrayal' over coronavirus-hit automotive sector

Labour have called for the Government to provide the sector with extra financial support

2 min read

Labour have accused Boris Johnson of "betrayal" amid claims the Government has failed to help the automotive sector weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell called for "targeted support" to be given to car manufacturers as she urged the Government to "do right by the communities they promised to protect".

It comes after new figures from industry group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found automotive production dropped by 99.7% in April as a result of the economic slowdown.

According to the group, overall production is likely to have fallen by almost a third at the end of the year, with around 11,000 jobs predicted to be lost as a result.

But Labour said the impact of job losses would be most keenly felt across the North, Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, where more than three-quarters of the UK's automotive jobs are located.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already faced criticism from car manufacturers for failing to follow the lead of other European countries by providing stimulus packages for the industry, with SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes saying the sector was "bitterly" disappointed with the lack of Treasury support.

And Ms Powell warned Mr Johnson that failure to step in could provoke a backlash from voters in former Labour constituencies which supported him in December.

"The UK's world-leading automotive industry has been rocked by coronavirus and livelihoods are on the line. But ministers won't listen to reason and are refusing to recognise some sectors have been hit harder than others," she said.

"They must urgently target support at the sectors that need it with a focus on creating skilled, green jobs - and do right by the communities across the UK they promised to protect.

"Anything less would be a betrayal of many communities which helped get Boris Johnson elected."

The Treasury has been approached for comment.

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