Honda confirmed it is set to close its Swindon factory in 2021, placing as many as 7,000 jobs at risk.
The Japanese car manufacturer blamed challenges in the car industry for the move.
Ian Howells, senior vice-president for Honda in Europe, said in comments to the BBC:
“We’re seeing unprecedented change in the industry on a global scale. We have to move very swiftly to electrification of our vehicles because of demand of our customers and legislation.
Honda’s Swindon plant is the car makers only location in the EU. However, it said the decision was unrelated to ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Howells said: “This is not a Brexit-related issue for us, it’s being made on the global-related changes I’ve spoken about.
“We’ve always seen Brexit as something we’ll get through, but these changes globally are something we will have to respond to. We deeply regret the impact it will have on the Swindon community.”
In response to the announcement, Business Secretary Greg Clark MP said this was 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.”
Shares in Honda (TYO: 7267) are currently trading +0.37% as of 11:37AM (GMT).