Britain’s largest union, Unite warned of a deeply worrying trend and called on the government to provide ‘Brexit certainty’ as figures out today (Friday 5 January) showed new car registrations fell by 5.7 per cent last year amid falling business and consumer confidence.

Approximately 2.54 million new cars were registered in 2017 compared with 2.69 million the previous year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

December saw an even sharper decline of 14.4 per cent with demand for diesels falling by 17.1 per cent over the year amid accusations of damaging government confusion over its policy on diesel cars.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “The latest car registration figures confirm a deeply worrying trend that will leave the UK’s world class car workers looking to the year ahead with trepidation.

“The government has caused confusion and damage with its policy on diesel cars and needs to start listening to the industry and workforce. Diesel engines produced by Unite members in the UK are the cleanest in the world. 

“Ministers’ botched and badly thought through announcements are causing major damage to the industry. Combined with economic and Brexit uncertainty this risks taking the sheen off the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown and the 800,000 high skilled jobs it sustains.  

“Car workers and manufacturing communities will be looking to the government to get the economy out of the slow lane in the year ahead and provide certainty over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe in order to unlock stalling car manufacturer investment. 

“A failure by ministers to do so will jeopardise the UK’s status as world leader in car manufacturing and undo the hard work of Britain’s car workers.” 


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

Notes to editors: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.