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Automotive industry closer to cliff edge after Brexit deal defeat

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said the vote against the Government’s Brexit deal has brought the UK automotive industry closer to the ‘no dea’ cliff edge.

The Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement was defeated by 432 votes to 202.

Following the vote last  night, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said leaving the European Union with no deal would be “catastrophic” for the automotive industry.

He said: “All sides in parliament must work together to find a way forward and put the necessary mechanisms in place to prevent this happening and explore alternatives that protect our future.

“Leaving the EU, our biggest and most important trading partner, without a deal and without a transition period to cushion the blow would put this sector and jobs at immediate risk.”

The SMMT wants ‘no deal’ to be avoided at all costs and has urged the Government to provide businesses with certainty.

He said: “We now need politicians to do everything to prevent irreversible damage to this vital sector.”

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) is urged the Government to take all necessary steps to ensure the automotive retail industry is protected.

Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said it was vital for franchised dealers and their customers to get some clarity over the Government’s future plans.

The UK is the second largest car market in Europe with £35.3 billion worth of cars imported to the UK from Europe and the retail automotive sector employs 555,000 people directly in the UK.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said there were “no words” to describe the “frustration, impatience, and growing anger” among business after “two-and-a-half years on a high-stakes, political rollercoaster ride that shows no sign of ending”.

“Basic questions on real-world operational issues remain unanswered and firms now find themselves facing the unwelcome prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on March 29," he said.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said every business now feels that 'no deal' is hurtling closer.

She said: "A new plan is needed immediately. This is now a time for our politicians to make history as leaders. All MPs need to reflect on the need for compromise and to act at speed to protect the UK's economy.”

EC president, Donald Tusk, urged the UK government to "clarify" its intentions with respect to its next steps "as soon as possible"

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