British new car registrations appeared on course for their first annual fall since 2011 after a 9.3 percent tumble in September, a month which normally accounts for around 15 percent of demand. As David Pollard reports, a growing political crisis is also adding to investor gloom.
It's a long and bumpy road to Brexit - and Brits may well be driving older cars when they get there. UK new car registrations appear on course for their first annual fall since 2011 - after a nine per cent drop in September. A month which usually sees around 15 per cent of annual demand. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "September is a really important month for car registrations because we get a new registration plate ... So a fall of that magnitude in this important month shows that there really is a lot of hesitancy among UK consumers." It's not all down to Brexit. Higher vehicle taxes and confusion over government plans for the future of diesel and petrol cars also played a part. But the latest news does come in a week of below-par construction, manufacturing and services data. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "It really builds on the fact that Britain at the time of the EU referendum was one of the fastest growing, in fact the fastest growing economy, among the G7. It's now the slowest growing." And where some are asking whose hands are on the wheel ... This week's conference performance marred by coughing fits, a prankster, and dodgy stage props raising yet another question mark ... Over the future of Theresa May. Solidarity from some .... SOUNDBITE (English) AMBER RUDD, UK INTERIOR MINISTER, SAYING: "The prime minister will continue in her role to do an excellent job .... She has my full support." But mixed with calls from others within the ruling Conservatives for her to go. As investors look on - with alarm. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT, 7IM, JUSTIN URQUHART STEWART, SAYING: "There's very little there to inspire enthusiasm, actually ... The effect of this lack of confidence will seep out on a broader scale overall until we can get some more clarity." Though many fear that getting that too may be a long journey.