The government has been forced into an early climbdown over industry fears.

UK health minister Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the country will be forced to keep European Union regulations for the automotive sector in place after it leaves the political union in March 2019.

Keeping the regulations will be done 'on a voluntary basis', said the secretary of state, with further negotiations about the UK's trade deals with the EU set to open next month.

'There will be areas and sectors of industry where we agree to align our regulations with European regulations, the automotive industry is perhaps an obvious example because of supply chains that are integrated, but it will be on a voluntary basis,' Hunt told the BBC. Prime minister Theresa May arranged an 'away-day' for cabinet ministers last week to discuss Brexit issues and try to bring to an end uncertainty over negotiations. May is expected to make a speech this week where she will outline further details of her vision for the UK's departure from the EU.

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The UK's plans to keep its automotive industry in line with the continent follows a trend known as 'three baskets', where each industry gets one of three treatments – it either stays in line with EU regulations, stay partially in line with EU regulations, or breaks away from them entirely.

That approach, though, has not gone down well with the European commission. 'UK views on regulatory issues in the future relationship including "three basket approach" are not compatible with the principles in the European Council guidelines,' it said in a leaked presentation put together by negotiating teams. The presentation added that the approach could pose a 'risk for the integrity' of the single market.

Brexit has already had a big effect on the UK's car industry, before it's even happened. Vauxhall production could leave the country, with huge job cuts sweeping through its Ellesmere Port plant. The nearby Jaguar Land Rover factory in Halewood near Liverpool is also cutting back on production due to Brexit, and Aston Martin has admitted it could be forced out of Britain entirely.

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