Sales of new cars in the UK are likely to fall by nearly 5 per cent this year, according to a prediction from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Worries over the UK's departure from the European Union, allied with general economic uncertainty are believed to be the key reasons for the precipitous drop.

2.565m cars are expected to be sold this year, down from last year's 2.693m sales – representing a fall of 4.7 per cent.

The SMMT have now downgraded its sales estimates for 2017 three times.

Sales are expected to fall even further in 2018, with the SMMT predicting a 5.4 per cent drop – to just 2.426m.

Vehicle makers and their suppliers are urging the Government to strike a trade deal with the EU that will prevent World Trade Organisation tariffs being placed on goods moving between the UK and the continent.

A new car made overseas may cost £1,500 more in the UK if WTO rules are put in place.

Domestic car production may also be impacted, as buying a UK-made car overseas will cost significantly more than it does at present. Some 80 per cent of British-built vehicles are exported, raising fears of job losses following any fall in demand.

800,000 people are employed by UK-based car manufacturers and their suppliers.

UK car production enjoyed a record 17-year high in 2016, but has since began a steady decline.

However, some UK marques are still enjoying strong sales, with Jaguar Land Rover selling 6.6 per cent more vehicles in September compared to the previous month.