Unite warns of Brexit uncertainty as UK’s global manufacturing ranking drops

The UK’s manufacturing sector has slipped two places to ninth in the world as uncertainty over Brexit continues.

Unite said the fall showed a worrying decline in the global position of British manufacturing after the Brexit vote and demonstrates the difficulties the sector faces due to the Tories’ shambolic handling of the negotiations with the EU.

UK manufacturing output remained ahead of Indonesia and Brazil at the end of 2016 but fell below France and was much lower than Italy in seventh place and Germany in fourth, according to figures from the manufacturers organisation EEF.

China remained in pole position ahead of the US and Japan, with South Korea taking fifth place and India sixth.

Data published earlier this month, shows UK manufacturing slowing amid a downturn in investment as uncertainty over the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU endures.

The fall in the UK’s international position from seventh in 2007 to ninth in 2016 has been partly blamed on the drop in sterling following the referendum in June 2016 – with the US dollar increasing in value against the pound by around 25 per cent in 2016.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said Brexit and the “shambles and uncertainty surrounding it” are taking a toll on UK manufacturing.

Burke said: “This is the information we get back from manufacturers on a regular basis. There’s companies now that are clearly withholding their commitment to continue investment until they know exactly what is likely to happen.

“The reality is that the government is now consumed, and has been for some time, by Brexit and saving the Conservative Party and it’s likely to get worse as the impact papers are published in the near future. Not just for manufacturing but for all parts of the economy.”

He added: “Any pretence of a Tory industrial strategy has now evaporated. While all this is going on issues such as productivity and investment are just not being addressed.”