Honda
Image Source: Mike Mozart
Around 90% of the cars made at the factory were exported to the EU
Richard Bell

Automaker Honda to cut 3,500 jobs in ‘shattering body blow’ to UK economy

Japanese automaker Honda is announcing plans to shut down its UK manufacturing operation in 2022, slashing around 3,500 jobs.

The company is reportedly preparing to close its car plant in Swindon, where it produced 160,000 Honda Civics last year.

Of the cars made at the factory, about 90% were exported to the European Union.

According to a Sky News report, Brexit is believed to be a factor in the decision as Honda is concerned about the impact of new tariffs once the UK is out of the EU.

It follows Japanese rival Nissan’s recent decision not to build its X-Trail SUV in Sunderland, for which Brexit was cited as one reason.

But Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, has spoken with Honda representatives and wrote on Twitter: “Honda are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit, as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.”

Labour’s Andrew Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, has argued that the planned closure is “part and parcel of Brexit”.

He said in a tweet: “Honda’s closure marks the collapse of the only serious industrial policy this country has had in last 30 years – attracting highly productive Japanese & German manufacturers to set up in the UK. Part & parcel of Brexit.”

Trade union Unite said the reports would be a “shattering body blow” if confirmed.

Des Quinn, the union’s national officer for the automotive sector, said in a statement: “The car industry in the UK over the last two decades has been the jewel in the crown for the manufacturing sector.

“And now it has been brought low by the chaotic Brexit uncertainty created by the rigid approach adopted by prime minister Theresa May.”

In addition to the 3,500 jobs directly affected, closure of the Swindon plant would impact “thousands of jobs in the extensive supply chain across the country”, Mr Quinn said.

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