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

Honda is set to close its Swindon plant. Credit: PA

Honda has confirmed it plans to close its Swindon factory, putting an estimated 3,500 jobs at risk.

Bosses from the Japanese car manufacturer met with politicians on Monday (February 18) to brief them on their plans.

According to North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, Honda's decision to close its Swindon plant is based on "global trends and not Brexit".

On Twitter, Mr Tomlinson said: "Robert Buckland and I have already spoken to the Business Secretary and Honda.

"They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.

The move follows car giant Ford which announced plans to let go of 24,000 workers as part of an extensive 'redesign' of the manufacturer in October.

Honda produces well over 100,000 Civic cars at Swindon, which is the company's only factory in the EU.

Honda will close its Swindon plant. Credit: PA

Unite described the potential job losses as a "shattering blow" for the UK's car industry.

The union is seeking urgent meetings with Honda management for clarification and called for business secretary Greg Clark to make a statement on the situation.

If these reports are confirmed, this would be a shattering body blow at the heart of UK manufacturing.

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. We are seeking urgent clarification from Honda on the implications of these serious reports.

– Des Quinn, Unite

Katsushi Inoue, Chief Officer for European Regional Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and President, Honda Motor Europe says: “In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly. As a result, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people.”

In a statement, Business Secretary Greg Clark has described the move as "devastating":

"Honda have announced, as part of a global restructuring, plans to close their Swindon plant in 2021; and instead manufacture and export the new Civic model into Europe from Japan.

"As Honda have said, this is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market. Regardless, this is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK.

"This news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain.

"I will convene a taskforce in Swindon with local MPs, civic and business leaders as well as trade union representatives to ensure that the skills and expertise of the workforce is retained, and these highly valued employees move into new skilled employment.

"The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transition to new technology. The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now."