3500 employees at risk as Honda announces closure of United Kingdom plant

3500 employees at risk as Honda announces closure of United Kingdom plant

It comes after Nissan opted to move production of its new X-Trail model from Sunderland to Japan instead, citing industry headwinds.

Honda also said it will stop making the current Civic Sedan model in Turkey but will continue business operations in the country.

Speaking to talkRADIO's Daisy McAndrew, Professor David Bailey said the closure of the plant, which employs 3500 workers and produces 160,000 cars a year, was a "big blow" to United Kingdom vehicle manufacturing.

The automaker, which builds more than a tenth of the 1.5 million cars made in Britain, said the move was not related to Brexit and it needed to focus activities in regions where it expects to sell most cars, after struggling in Europe.

When asked if tariffs had anything to do with the decision, Pawl said she was unaware if that played into the decision.

According to the auto manufacturer's website, the Swindon factory employs thousands of employees.

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.

Major Japanese banks are pulling out of London, and nuclear company Hitachi last month announced a freeze in a major power plant in Wales.

Speaking to the BBC, Senior Vice-President for Honda in Europe Ian Howells said: "We're seeing unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale". The Japanese group, which has no other plants in Europe, will import from Japan following the closure.

Business secretary Greg Clark, with whom Buckland and Tomlinson are in close consultation, shared their concerns about the "devastating impact" Honda's exit will have on the local economy of Swindon. "They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021", he said on Twitter.

Regarding Honda's decision, the company "seems to have been preparing for this for a long time", Seiji Sugiura, analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told AFP.

Honda has said the shock decision was nothing to do with Brexit however, industry experts have blamed Brexit uncertainty over the UK's future trading relationships.

Unite, a union which represents many workers from the plant, refuses to give up on the plant's skilled and dedicated workforce.

He added: "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".

And Japanese officials have reportedly become frustrated with their British counterparts as they negotiate a potential post-Brexit trade deal.

The Swindon plant, which now employs 3,500 people and produces engines and the Civic sedan, is not the company's only cutback.

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