'Brexit squeeze' on clothing prices, claim Lib Dems

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Britons are facing a "Brexit squeeze" on clothing prices, the Lib Dems have claimed.

Nick Clegg warned Prime Minister Theresa May's "self-destructive decision" to leave the single market had left the fashion and textiles industry "unable to plan for the future".

The former deputy prime minister argued clothing manufacturers across the country were "already struggling to absorb cost increases due to the weaker pound", which he said was a direct consequence of the EU referendum.

He said: "It is only a matter of time before these increased costs are passed on to consumers. The Brexit squeeze on this sector of our economy is going to be felt on everything from suits to duvets.

"The Conservatives have done nothing to address the fears of many exporters that they are about to be hit by customs tariffs thanks to Theresa May's choice to pull us out of the customs union."

The Lib Dems claimed the fall in the pound's value had increased import prices of yarn and thread by 12% since the EU referendum, while finished clothes were approximately 15% more expensive to import than a year ago.

Failure to agree a Brexit deal, the party argued, would see the introduction of tariffs on UK clothes exports to the continent, with fibre 2%, yarn up to 4%, fabric 8% and clothing as high as 12%, hitting the competitiveness of British brands.

Mr Clegg earlier said that ice cream and wine now costs more following the vote to leave the EU, and prices had hit energy bills and petrol.

The UK fashion and textiles industry employs more than 556,000 people, with British manufacturers creating products worth £9 billion a year, the Lib Dems said.