British factory output recorded its biggest annual fall in nearly three years in March, as shutdowns in the steel industry due to global overcapacity led broad-based declines. As David Pollard reports, the impact of the Brexit vote isn't helping
They're calling on the big guns now - even the ones that haven't been wheeled out in a while. Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown the latest to launch a salvo against Britain leaving the EU. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GORDON BROWN, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, SAYING: If you look at pharmaceuticals, or the car industry, if you look at food, drink, the whisky industry for example, or if you look at financial services, Europe is our biggest market. GFX In the meantime, manufacturing has shown its biggest drop in nearly three years - shutdowns in the steel industry playing an unwelcome hand. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: Certainly we are seeing a deceleration ... It does raise the spectre of potentially growth in the first half of this year being relatively negligible and of course that does raise questions marks over Bank of England policy from here, irrespective of that upcoming Brexit vote. Sterling is a likely focus when the Bank makes its latest policy decision on Thursday. Four-fifths of major UK companies said to be hedging against a 10 per cent drop in the pound if Britain votes to leave. Though the same survey shows a similar proportion of SMEs see no sterling risk. The Bank's also due to issue revised growth and inflation outlooks. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: There are external headwinds ... and you overlay that with some that some domestic Brexit-related concerns and you have a rather unfortunate cocktail of conditions. But with a small cherry on top for UK manufacturing - a lower pound one thing that could help revive its fortunes.