The UK motor industry has warned that uncertainty over Brexit negotiations is "holding us back" as new figures show investment has been slashed by nearly half so far this year.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade association the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), claimed contingency planning, job losses and investment cuts are "the price we pay for slow decision making".

He said: "We don't seem to be any closer to the certainty and stability the whole of British industry needs."

The automotive sector is a key employer in the North-East, with more than 25,000 jobs supported at the Nissan factory in Sunderland and through its supply chain, and hopes for thousands more at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park being built at Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Mr Hawes described the £347 million of investment earmarked for new models and facilities in the UK in the first half of this year, down from £647 million in the same period in 2017, as "ominous".

He went on: "There is growing frustration in global boardrooms at the slow pace of negotiations.

"The current position, with conflicting messages and red lines, goes directly against the interests of the UK automotive sector which has thrived on single market and customs union membership.

"There is no credible plan B for frictionless customs arrangements, nor is it realistic to expect that new trade deals can be agreed with the rest of the world that will replicate the immense value of trade with the EU."

Car giant BMW has also aired concerns over the future of the motoring industry post-Brexit.

The German giant employs around 8,000 people in the UK, with its plant in Oxford producing the popular Mini range.

Senior director Stephan Freismuth said delays in importing components would put the operation under serious threat, potentially forcing UK closures.