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MP highlights damage to UK car industry caused by government’s mishandling of COVID-19 crisis 

MP Matt Western challenged the Prime Minister on why the UK had suffered greater industrial and economic damage than other European nations in response to the pandemic.

The Warwick and Leamington MP questioned the government’s recovery through an analysis of the relative performance of UK, German and French car sales this year.

He said: “It’s too easy to talk about the economic impact in the abstract, namely a projected 12% fall in GDP due to COVID-19 here in the UK – worst among G7 countries.

“But it is important to illustrate to the public the shocking reality of the government’s response in more tangible terms.

“We need to look at the detail of the damage to our economy – to our combined prosperity – and so I analysed the car sales data for the UK in relation to our major competitors. The results are extremely concerning.”

He raised the issue in a question to the Prime Minister yesterday (Wednesday, December 9).

He revealed the UK has lost the equivalent of 184,000 more car sales relative to the losses suffered by Germany from January to October this year.

He also showed the UK has lost 93,000 more car sales relative to the decline over that same period in France.

Mr Western says the analysis is an indicator of how the government has failed to control the pandemic and, in particular, it exposes its failings on test and trace.

The essential, basic measures would have ensured less disruption socially and to businesses allowing greater continuity of economic activity, he claims.

He also says it is particularly telling that Germany and France were able to re-start their manufacturing sectors much more quickly compared to the UK. They also re-opened car showrooms faster.

The UK car market – essential to the Midlands’ recovery from the crisis – has seen a 31% slump this year compared to the last. This is the equivalent of more than 620,000 vehicles and a loss of £18billion to the sector.

Year on year, France’s car sales have declined by about 27% (equivalent to about 490,000 vehicles) and Germany’s by only 23% (or 707,791 vehicles).

Mr Western added: “The UK has suffered a significantly worse slump in car sales, as the statistics show.

“For the Prime Minister to ignore this disparity epitomises the dismissive attitude of a government that continues to ignore the plight of manufacturing businesses. He said, ‘F*** business’: he clearly meant it.”