UK manufacturing output tumbled at its fastest pace for seven years as new orders dropped, with Brexit uncertainty and unwinding of stockpiling activity ahead of the originally planned March 29 departure date weighing heavily, a survey shows.

And manufacturers indicated clients were routing supply chains away from the UK ahead of the country’s exit from the European Union.

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The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s seasonally adjusted purchasing managers’ index for UK manufacturing, a composite measure of changes in output, new orders, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of goods purchased, was unchanged in July at 48. This is well below the level of 50 deemed to separate growth from contraction.

CIPS noted the index had last been below its current level in February 2013. It observed the manufacturing PMI had now been below 50 for three consecutive months.

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It said: “Manufacturers linked lower order intakes and production to ongoing uncertainties – political, global trade tensions and Brexit – and slower world economic growth.”

UK manufacturing employment fell for a fourth straight month.

Rob Dobson, director at CIPS survey compiler IHS Markit, said: “July saw the UK manufacturing sector suffocating under the choke-hold of slower global economic growth, political uncertainty and the unwinding of earlier Brexit stockpiling activity. Production volumes fell at the fastest pace in seven years as clients delayed, cancelled or re-routed orders away from the UK, leading to a further decline in new work intakes from both domestic and overseas markets.“