Ford exit reports 'deeply worrying' for Bridgend plant

A Ford factory in Dagenham Image copyright Getty Images

Reports of Ford stepping up plans to move production out of the UK are "deeply worrying", former first minister Carwyn Jones has said.

The Times newspaper claimed the car giant told Prime Minister Theresa May it was preparing sites abroad.

Ford did not comment on the claim but said a no-deal Brexit would be "catastrophic" for the UK car industry.

It has a plant in Mr Jones' Bridgend constituency and last month union Unite said 1,000 jobs were to be cut by 2021.

Those cuts, which the union said was because of challenging market conditions, would see the site's workforce almost halve.

Ford is looking to shake up its European operations and is the latest carmaker to warn about the risks of a no-deal Brexit ahead of the UK's departure from the EU on 29 March.

A spokesman said: "Such a situation would be catastrophic for the UK auto industry and Ford's manufacturing operations in the country.

"We will take whatever action is necessary to preserve the competitiveness of our European business."

Labour's Mr Jones expressed his concern for workers and their families in Bridgend, but blamed the impasse over the Brexit deal on a lack of leadership at UK level.

"We have no idea what Brexit will look like," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The job losses in Bridgend would be phased over the next two years

"We're six or seven weeks away from it and companies like Ford are saying, 'look we can't wait any longer, we're going to have to put in place contingency plans' and that's deeply worrying.

"We need to make sure that we get to an agreement and certainty as quickly as possible."

Unite national officer Des Quinn urged MPs to "stop gambling" with the futures of UK workers and their families.

He added: "They now must do what is best for the country by taking a no deal, hard Brexit off the table and securing the tariff-free, frictionless trade with Europe through a permanent customs union on which our manufacturing success depends."

The UK government said the best way to provide certainty to industry is for MPs to support the prime minister's Brexit deal.

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