Toyota boss hints at keeping UK plants even if Britain leaves EU

Toyota's Burnaston Plant in Derbyshire Credit: Rui Vieira / PA Archive/PA Images

The boss of Toyota has hinted that the car manufacturer will keep its UK plants even if Britain votes to leave the EU.

Chief executive Akio Toyoda, suggested that the Japanese firm was looking to "deepen" its ties and would still be operating at its factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire, in 2090.

He told the Financial Times that former staff had buried a time capsule at the assembly plant 25 years ago and he believed the firm's workers would be there to open it.

From now on, like Japan, we may face some pretty tough times in the UK market, but we want to deepen our roots to deliver even better cars, so that when that capsule is opened after 100 years, all can see we've built a truly British company.

Akio Toyoda, Chief Executive

Mr Toyoda's comments came as the debate around Britain's membership of the EU intensified, with David Cameron insisting ministers in his government do not campaign for a "Brexit" until renegotiation talks finish.

The Prime Minister hopes to strike a deal on his demands at a crunch summit in Brussels next month, which will then allow him to recommend that the UK remains within a reformed EU, but until the talks are concluded, he stressed that all his ministers should follow the government line.

He also hinted an in/out referendum could take place as early as this summer.

The plant was shut for two weeks over Easter in 2010 due to sluggish sales and the recall of cars Credit: Rui Vieira / PA Archive/PA Images

Mr Toyoda suggested further investment by the car-maker could hinge on access to the wider EU market.

In the sense that investment equals capacity then various things come into it, like the size of the market, but there are other kinds of investment: in research, in development, in people.

Akio Toyoda, Chief Executive

The company employs around 3,400 staff in both Derbyshire and its engine plant in Deeside, north Wales.