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Honda confirms plan to close United Kingdom factory with loss of 3,500 jobs

21 February 2019

Should we take at face value the claims that Brexit has nothing to do with this decision and base action on that? With current output, the plant produces 150,000 cars per year.

Nissan itself highlighted Brexit uncertainty in its decision to reverse plans for the X-Trial, while closer to home, Jaguar also cited the UK's exit as a factor in its decision to axe jobs.

He added: "Uncertainty over the future trading relationship makes it very hard to make decisions about 2021 or 2022 when we don't even know if the United Kingdom will be in the customs union or the single market". This decision was not taken lightly, and we deeply regret the trouble caused, he added.

Honda's second plant closure in 2022 - will result in 3,500 job losses, Justin Tomlinson, a Conservative politician, said. A raft of amendments to be voted on by MPs on Tuesday threaten to further muddy the waters as the clock ticks down to Britain's scheduled departure from the European Union on March 29.

L Alan Winters, director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, said that the backdrop of Brexit means that the UK is less able to respond to challenges in the industry.

Honda's decision came hot on the heels of Nissan axing production at its Sunderland plant in northeast England. A recent free-trade agreement between Japan and Europe gave credence to the idea, as Honda could switch manufacturing to Japan and import its cars to Europe tariff-free.

A spokesperson told driving.co.uk that retooling the Swindon plant to accommodate electric cars makes less business sense than updating its plants aimed at the Asian and American markets.

"This is not a Brexit-related issue for is, it's being made on the global-related changes I've spoken about".

The UK has always been a Japanese hub for European auto production, with Honda, Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp owning three of the country's six largest automaking factories.

Japan has signed a trade deal with the European Union with zero tariffs on cars, while there is still no clear sign of what the UK's trade with the European Union will look like after Brexit.

It said earlier it will stop production at Swindon for six days in April to help prepare for any disruption in parts procurement after Brexit. "This decision has been made on the basis of... global changes", Honda Senior Vice President for Europe, Ian Howells, said.

Reuters' source says the official reason for the closure is Honda's effort to consolidate production, as well as focus on new auto tech. Consultation with potentially affected employees will begin today, Honda says.

However, Des Quinn of the Unite workers union Unite, said: "While Brexit is not mentioned by the company as a reason for the announcement, we believe that the uncertainty that the Tory government has created by its inept and rigid handling of the Brexit negotiations lurks in the background".

That comes at a time when the industry is already in serious flux, with manufacturers shifting to cleaner cars, coping with more tariffs and a slowing global economy.

Honda confirms plan to close United Kingdom factory with loss of 3,500 jobs