No-deal Brexit set to hit ‘Red Wall’ areas hardest as experts warn of ‘triple whammy’ facing voters

PUBLISHED: 11:12 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:15 16 July 2020

Manufacturers have warned factories in the north of England, Midlands, and Wales could close as a result of Brexit. Photo of a factory in Sunderland. Photo: PA.

Manufacturers have warned factories in the north of England, Midlands, and Wales could close as a result of Brexit. Photo of a factory in Sunderland. Photo: PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A group of British manufacturers have warned Boris Johnson that a no-deal Brexit could decimate businesses in “Red Wall” areas won by the Tories in last year’s election.

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Make UK, a manufacturing lobby group, and the accountancy firm BDO have advised that areas in the north of England, Midlands, and Wales could be hit with a “triple whammy” if the UK fails to secure a trade deal with Brussels.

In addition to the dealing with the economic fallout of coronavirus and Brexit, firms with strong trade links to Europe could go under if talks fail, they warned.

In its latest economic forecast, Make UK and BDO said that traditional Labour constituencies - known as “Red Wall” districts - had a high dependence on exports to the EU, as well as a higher-than-average dependence on manufacturing, making them most at risk of collapse if trade barriers and tariffs are imposed in a no-deal scenario.

It also outlined that almost two-thirds of exports from Wales and the north-east of England went to the EU, while the financial benefits of manufacturing in these regions were higher than the national average.

Stephen Phipson, the chief executive of Make UK, said: “Should the UK fail to reach a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU, then those regions with a high concentration of manufacturing and a dependence on Europe as a major market will suffer a ‘triple whammy’, given the impact of Covid-19. For some companies the combination may prove fatal.”

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Number 10 has repeatedly ruled out publishing its economic impact assessment of a no-deal Brexit.

The last official outlook was published in November 2018 when Theresa May was trying to get her Brexit deal approved in parliament.

At the time, the government said Britain’s economy would be 9.3% smaller after 15 years under no deal than it would have had the country remained a member of the single market.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs at a Commons treasury committee on Tuesday that it would be “difficult” for economic forecasters now to come up with an accurate forecast due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Given all the uncertainty in our economy I don’t think it would be a particularly accurate or constructive exercise,” he said.

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