Some of the UK's "red wall" constituencies, which helped to secure Boris Johnson’s Commons majority by switching from Labour to Conservative last year, will be hardest hit by a no-deal Brexit, manufacturers have warned.
Leaving the EU without a trade deal at the same time as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis may prove “fatal” for businesses, they say.
With just six months to go before the UK leaves the EU entirely, Make UK, the manufacturers' organisation, is calling for extra help for those areas that will be most affected.
The call comes as the group releases a new analysis of regional manufacturing performance.
It highlights the areas that heavily depend on manufacturing and on exports to the EU, and who will struggle most with barriers to trade.
The analysis shows how heavily Wales, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber all rely on trade with the EU.
Ministers insist there will be no extension to the transition period which is due to finish at the end of this year, even if both sides have failed to strike a trade deal.
Stephen Phipson, 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 hit given the impact of Covid-19. For some companies the combination may prove fatal.”
He added: “We are now at a tipping point in how we build a recovery and a post-Covid economy. If that means tearing up the rule book on adopting a new approach to policy then so be it, nothing should be off the table.”