In Brief

Ford boss: ‘disastrous’ no-deal Brexit may affect carmaker’s UK plans

US company relies heavily on tax-free trading and no border checks inside EU

Ford has warned that a no-deal Brexit “would be pretty disastrous” for British industry and could force the US manufacturer to reconsider its operations in the UK. 

The carmaker’s European chief, Steven Armstrong, said that tax-free trading and no border checks was vital for Ford’s speedy and “complicated” supply line, the Daily Mail reports. Should Britain fail to secure such a deal with the European Union, the firm would have to “think about what our future investment strategy for the UK would be”, he said.

“For Ford, a hard Brexit is a red line. It could severely damage the UK’s competitiveness and result in a significant threat to much of the auto industry, including our own UK manufacturing operations,” Armstrong added.

The car boss insists that a Brexit deal based on the current agreement between the European Union and Canada would not work for Ford. 

Although such a deal would allow tariff-free trade, Armstrong told the BBC that “it would still involve border checks - and would upset the just-in-time delivery model used by the company in Europe”.

His warnings mark a dramatic U-turn on pledges made by Ford earlier in the year. 

In April, the US carmaker reassured its 14,000 employees in the UK - including 3,000 at the Dagenham engine plant and 1,950 at a factory in Bridgend, Wales - that its operations would not move “whatever the outcome of Brexit talks”, The Guardian reports. 

Other car manufacturers with factories in the UK, including Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota, have also expressed concerns about a potential no-deal Brexit. 

Yesterday Nissan announced that it would suspend pay talks with its employees until the terms of Brexit are “clearer”, The Independent notes.

The Japanese firm, which built almost a third of the UK’s total 1.67 million new cars last year, said the staff negotiations “will commence in 2019 when we have better clarity on the future business outlook”.

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