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Ford boss: Bridgend closure 'has nothing to do with Brexit'

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A sign at Ford's Bridgend engine plant. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Ford’s top executive in Europe has insisted that its decision to close its Bridgend engine plant after more than four decades “has nothing to do with Brexit.”

Speaking after the company confirmed that the factory in South Wales would be shut down in September 2020, Stuart Rowley said: “The simple way to think of that is: if Brexit had never happened, would there be a different decision?”

“And the answer to that is no,” he said.

His comments came in spite of earlier warnings from the car company about the impact of Brexit.

READ MORE: Ford to close Wales plant in September 2020, risking 1,700 jobs

Speaking in April, the chairman of Ford’s European division, Steven Armstrong, warned that a hard or no-deal Brexit “would be a disaster for the automotive industry in the UK.”

“And within that, of course, I count Ford Motor Company,” he said.

He said that Ford would be forced to “consider seriously the long-term future of our investments in the country.”

In a statement on Thursday, Ford blamed “significant underutilisation” of the Bridgend plant, citing the ending of an engine production contract with Jaguar Land Rover, and “reduced global demand” for the engines produced at the plant.

It also faces “a cost disadvantage” compared to other Ford plants, it said.

“The proposed action is a necessary step to support Ford’s global business redesign and is part of the company’s strategy to create a more efficient and focused business in Europe.”

A Ford employee with direct knowledge with the situation told Yahoo Finance UK that, while a number of people will be redeployed to other plants in the UK, all of the plant’s 1,700 jobs were at risk.

In January, Nissan blamed Brexit for its decision to abandon plans to manufacture its flagship X-Trail SUV vehicle at its Sunderland plant.

And in February, workers blamed Brexit for Honda’s announcement that it was closing its Swindon plant in 2021, which will result in the loss of 3,500 jobs.