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Leaving EU without deal 'a disaster for manufacturers'

By Andrew Woodcock

Manufacturers from across Europe have warned that failure to achieve a deal on the UK's departure from the European Union will be "highly damaging" for industry in both Britain and the rest of the continent.

The warning, on the day that Prime Minister Theresa May triggers withdrawal talks under Article 50, came from the Ceemet group of organisations, representing more than 200,000 manufacturers.

Britain's EEF - which forms part of the group - said failure to reach a deal would risk the "lifeblood" of Britain's economic success.

Meanwhile, the UK's digital industry trade body said it was vital for tech companies to avoid a "chaotic" Brexit in which the UK crashes out of the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

The TUC also urged Mrs May, who has insisted an exit agreement and trade deal can be completed within 18 months, to take her time over negotiations in order to ensure British workers' rights keep pace with those of the remaining 27 EU states. Speculation over a hard Brexit on WTO terms has mounted since Mrs May declared that "no deal is better than a bad deal".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said exit without a deal would be "perfectly okay", and Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Monday that Whitehall had done a great deal of planning for that outcome.

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