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  1. ITV Report

Honda plant in Swindon to close putting 3,500 jobs at risk

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Honda is planning to close its Swindon factory, an MP has said, raising fears for the jobs of 3,500 people who are employed at the plant.

It is thought that the car manufacturer's plan is to shut the plant in 2022 but maintain their UK headquarters in Berkshire.

Honda are set to make a full announcement on Tuesday regarding the future of the factory but politicians were briefed by the Japanese company on Monday.

Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson said Honda's decision to consolidate European market production in Japan was not as a result of Brexit.

Justin Tomlinson claims the closure is not related to Brexit. Credit: PA

The Conservative MP tweeted: "Honda: @RobertBuckland & I have already spoken to the Business Secretary & Honda. They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.

Honda staff showing off a new car model in 2015. Credit: PA

"Working with Honda, Gov (led by the Business Secretary), staff and Unions there will be a taskforce set up to provide support for all staff (as we did when jobs were lost previously at Honda).

"Honda will be consulting with all staff and there is not expected to be any job losses, or changes in production until 2021."

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The company employs about 3,500 people at its plant in Wiltshire, building around 160,000 Honda Civics a year, more than 90% of which were exported to Europe and the US.

The Swindon plant is currently the only one Honda has in the EU.

Last month Honda announced plans for a six-day shutdown to prepare for any Brexit-related disruption.

In the past the Honda has said a no-deal Brexit would cost the company tens of millions of pounds.

Around 3,500 people work at the Honda factory. Credit: PA

The Unite union say the loss of the Honda factory would be "shattering body blow at the head of UK manufacturing".

Unite national officer for the automotive sector Des Quinn said: “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."

As well as criticising the government's handling of Brexit, Unite are unhappy with how no warning was given to the unions regarding the Honda closure.

“If the government had advance warning of this dreadful news and did not alert the unions, this is an appalling and cavalier attitude by ministers.”

Rachel Reeves says Brexit is damaging the UK. Credit: PA

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "Honda's decision to close its factory in Swindon is a huge blow to the thousands of workers and the whole community. The government's disastrous handling of Brexit is letting people down across the country."

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee said: "This is devastating for Swindon, for jobs, for the supply-chain, and for the UK's car industry.

"The threat of Brexit is already having a damaging impact on investment decisions in the UK. The PM now needs to rule out no-deal immediately and keep us in the single market and customs union rather than risk further fatal damage to our car industry.

"Japan and the EU have a free-trade agreement, guaranteeing tariff-free access. It would be an act of folly to toss that away, along with friction-free access to the EU market, in the forlorn hope that we could negotiate a better deal."