LONDON (Reuters) – British factory orders grew for a second month in a row in December after a sharp slowdown in October, but the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is a growing worry for manufacturers, the Confederation of British Industry said on Wednesday.
A rebound in export orders helped the CBI’s monthly order book balance show a positive reading of +8, a touch weaker than November’s +10 but well above average levels, the group said.
A measure of expectations for the three months ahead rose to +14, its highest level since September.
“The UK’s manufacturing sector enters the Christmas period with a small upswing, with output growth gathering further pace. The firming in exports orders is also particularly welcome,” CBI economist Anna Leach said.
“But uncertainty over Brexit still casts a long shadow over this sector and the rest of the economy,” she said.
“Politicians must finally stop the endless infighting and come together to secure a workable solution, or we’re in danger of edging closer to a no-deal Brexit.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to overcome deep opposition within her Conservative Party to the Brexit deal she negotiated with other European Union leaders. She plans to put the plan to a vote in parliament in mid-January, little more than two months before Britain is due to leave the EU.
The CBI joined other business groups to warned earlier on Wednesday about the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)