Thank you to those who have contacted me about the announcement by Honda to close the company’s manufacturing plant in Swindon.
As you know, Honda has announced, as part of a global restructuring, that from 2021 it will instead manufacture and export the new Civic model into Europe from Japan. As Honda has said, this is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market. Regardless, this is a bitter blow to the 3,500 skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain.
I am assured that the Business Secretary has convened 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. That said, this is a devastating decision that requires the Government to ensure that, in the years to come, Honda will once again recognise Britain as the best place in the world to build some of the best vehicles in the world.
The UK automotive industry is a leading sector for the British economy which draws on our combination of rich automotive heritage and cutting-edge innovation. Its role in providing high skilled well-paid jobs, innovative R&D and investment is why the Government is determined to build on these strengths to make the UK a leader in the next generation of autonomous and electric vehicles through the Automotive Sector Deal, as part of the modern Industrial Strategy.
Ultimately, and despite the uncertainty of Brexit, the Government’s commitments to the sector have proved persuasive, as they have for investments by Nissan in Sunderland, Toyota at Burnaston and PSA Vauxhall at Luton.