Britain's manufacturers and their European counterparts have issued a fresh warning for the UK government and the European Commission to resume talks and reach a Brexit deal.
Manufacturing body Make UK, in a joint statement with its sister organisation in Europe CEEMET, said that while UK manufacturing is starting to recover from the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the recovery of supply chain operations and just-in-time logistics remains “essential.”
The industry groups added that COVID-19 has made it “impossible to fully prepare for the changes that are coming in January,” urging the UK and the EU to get back to the negotiating table and ensure a no-deal exit is avoided.
They also called for negotiators to ensure the best possible deal, such included avoiding tariffs, simplifying rules of origin, and minimising red tape at the border.
“A no-deal scenario with our most critical trading partner, the EU, would be disastrous for manufacturing and for the millions more employed in supporting industries both here in the UK and across the EU,” the joint statement said.
“The impacts would go far beyond disruptions in trade at the border. Families and communities would be left hanging in the balance, affecting real people who need the well-paid jobs that manufacturing provides alongside its contribution of almost half of Britain’s global exports.”
Manufacturing and engineering companies employ 2.7 million people across every constituency in the UK, and millions in Europe.
Make UK added that the call is strongly supported by sister bodies Manufacturing Northern Ireland, EEF Northern Ireland and Scottish Engineering, which represent manufacturing businesses across Britain.
It comes as the European Union told Britain on Wednesday to make a decision on Brexit as an agreement was still “within reach.”
European Council president Charles Michel told the European Parliament: “Time is very short and we stand ready to negotiate 24/7, on all subjects, on legal texts. The UK has a bit of a decision to make and it’s their free and sovereign choice.”
Meanwhile, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the parliament an agreement was still “within reach.”
“We will seek the necessary compromises on both sides in order to do our utmost to reach an agreement and we will do so right up until the last day which it’s possible to do so, our doors will always remain open right up until the very end,” Barnier said.
The pound rose against both the euro and dollar on the back of the comments.
Watch: What is a no-deal Brexit?