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Tories to blame for drop in manufacturing, Unite leader says

TORIES should take the blame for a drop in British car manufacturing, Unite leader Len McCluskey said yesterday.

New figures showed domestic demand for new cars was down by almost 10 per cent last year.

This occurred amid falling economic confidence and “confusion” over the government’s policy on diesel cars, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

The stats show that 1.67 million cars were made in Britain in 2017, compared to 1.72m the year before.

Mr McCluskey said: “These figures really ought to ring the alarm bells right across government.

“Our world-class car manufacturing sector is at risk and much of the blame for this lies directly at the government’s door.”

He said the Tories had presided over “the longest continuous fall in living standards for generations” and it was laughable they then expected the consumer economy to stay strong.

“When wages don’t grow, people can’t buy,” Mr McCluskey said.

“Big-ticket items like cars are often the first things consumers cut back on and we see that today in these concerning figures.”

A government spokesman insisted: “The UK automotive industry remains a great British success story and global demand for UK-designed, engineered and manufactured cars and engines remains strong.”

Labour shadow industry minister Chi Onwurah hit back, saying: “The government’s mismanagement of the economy and Brexit negotiations has shaken consumer and business confidence.

“The industry has warned the government time and time again about the need for proper investment, but, as is typical with the Tories, they have failed to listen or take action.”

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