The Latest: UK manufacturers stockpiling ahead of Brexit
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s departure from the European Union (all times local):
A closely watched economic survey shows that the U.K.’s manufacturing sector is faltering as Brexit draws near and that whatever growth it is recording is largely due to firms stockpiling.
In a monthly survey, financial information firm IHS Markit says its main purchasing managers’ index — a broad gauge of activity in the sector — fell to a four-month low 52.0 in February from 52.6 the previous month.
Though that’s above the 50 threshold that marks expansion, the survey said Friday that the growth was largely due to firms implementing “plans to mitigate potential Brexit-related disruptions.” This has involved the stockpiling raw materials, for example.
James Smith, an economist at ING, says the survey shows that the sector is still narrowly expanding, “but make no mistake, the underlying details make it clear that this is only because firms are building up inventory ahead of Brexit.”
Britain is due to leave the EU in four weeks but it’s unclear on what terms it will leave.
Eurotunnel has withdrawn its lawsuit against the British government over a claim of being unfairly excluded from bidding for contracts being offered to run ferry services after the country leaves the European Union.
In an agreement worth 33 million pounds ($43 million), Eurotunnel and the government say they’ve struck a deal to “ensure that the Channel Tunnel remains the preferred route for vital goods to travel between the EU and the U.K.”
The agreement enables the development of infrastructure, security and border measures that “will guarantee the flow of vehicles carrying urgent and vital goods and that will keep supply chains essential to both industry and consumers moving.”
A former Brexit secretary has accused the European Union of acting dishonorably in talks with the U.K., arguing that it may make sense to leave the bloc with no deal and then negotiate future relations as an independent third country.
Dominic Raab told the BBC on Friday that the EU had “tried to bully us” by exploiting the “sensitive issue of Northern Ireland” to lock Britain into EU laws.
Raab says a no-deal Brexit is preferable to the terms that are currently on offer. He says Britain shouldn’t delay its March 29 departure because doing so would show the EU that its intransigence is paying off.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said lawmakers will get to vote on a delay if she fails to secure an agreement by March 12.