'Selfish' politicians risking no-deal Brexit 'catastrophe', manufacturers warn

Posted On: 
19th February 2019

Britain faces the "catastrophic prospect" of a no-deal Brexit because of the "selfishness" of some politicians, a top group of manufacturers has warned.

Britain is due to leave the EU on 29 March.
Credit: 
PA

Dame Judith Hackitt - chair of manufacturing umbrella body EEF - hit out at MPs over the prospect of Britain leaving without an agreement, the default outcome if parliament does not give its backing to a deal with the European Union before 29 March.

"Let me be clear... for those hard Brexiteers who accuse us of scaremongering," she told Reuters. "This is very real and very serious."

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Dame Judith added: "Some of our politicians have put selfish political ideology ahead of the national interest and people's livelihoods and left us facing the catastrophic prospect of leaving the EU next month with no deal."

The broadside comes amid a spate of setbacks for the British economy, with Japanese car giant Honda today expected to make a formal announcement about the future of its plant in Swindon.

Up to 3,500 jobs are thought to be at risk in a move union Unite has already described as a "shattering body blow at the heart of UK manufacturing".

Unite claimed that the manufacturer had been "brought low by the chaotic Brexit uncertainty created by the rigid approach adopted by prime minister Theresa May" - although South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said he had been told the decision was "based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021".

Jeremy Corbyn will meanwhile use a speech to the EEF's annual conference on Tuesday to once again urge the Prime Minister to ditch talk of a no-deal Brexit and consider Labour's plan for a softer Brexit.

He will say: "Later this week I will travel to Brussels to discuss it with Michel Barnier and others. It’s a plan that could win the support of parliament and help bring the country together.

"It has been widely welcomed as a way of breaking the impasse. So I call on the government and MPs across parliament to end the Brexit uncertainty and back Labour’s credible alternative plan."

Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and Greg Clark are also expected to address Tuesday's gathering of manufacturing bosses, with Mr Clark reported to be one of four ministers who have urged Theresa May to rule out leaving the EU without a deal or risk a wave of government resignations.