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BMW schedules Mini plant’s annual maintenance work for immediately post-Brexit

BMW will start its annual maintenance work at its Mini plant the day after the UK is scheduled to leave the EU (Anthony Devlin/PA) Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

BMW will not build cars at its Mini plant immediately after the UK leaves the EU next year, to carry out annual maintenance.

The car giant said essential updating will start on April 1 at the site in Cowley, near Oxford, and last several weeks.

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A statement said: “Planned annual maintenance periods at BMW Group production sites allow essential updating and equipment replacement to be completed over several weeks, while there is no production taking place.

“As a responsible organisation, we have scheduled next year’s annual maintenance period at Mini Plant Oxford to start on 1 April, when the UK exits the EU, to minimise the risk of any possible short-term parts-supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“While we believe this worst case scenario is an unlikely outcome, we have to plan for it.

“We remain committed to our operations in Britain, which is the only country in the world where we manufacture for all three of our automotive brands.”

BMW’s announcement follows warnings from the motor industry and trade unions about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

Jaguar Land Rover announced that workers at its Castle Bromwich plant are to go on a three-day week.

A spokesman said: “In light of the continuing headwinds impacting the car industry, we are making some temporary adjustments to our production schedules at Castle Bromwich.”

Honda said on Tuesday that a no-deal Brexit would cost it tens of millions of pounds.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said “chaotic management” of Brexit negotiations by the Government had created uncertainty across the UK’s automotive industry and the manufacturing sector generally.

He said: “Maintenance work and preparing the Cowley plant for the new electric mini would usually have taken place in the summer months, but faced with the UK Government’s shambolic approach to Brexit negotiations and the looming chaos of a no-deal, BMW has taken the sensible step to bring forward this essential work.

“BMW’s decision underlines the uncertainty facing one of the UK’s flagship industries.

“Unite is working with businesses like BMW to mitigate the worst effects of the Tories’ Brexit chaos, but working people are losing out as the uncertainty bites and carmakers stall on investment plans.

“Theresa May’s Tory Government needs to stop gambling with UK jobs and the future of one of the jewels in Britain’s manufacturing crown by getting a Brexit deal that secures frictionless trade and tariff-free access to the European Union.”