Reports that Honda is set to close its Swindon plant in 2022 – putting 3,500 jobs at risk – has ignited a huge debate about the reasons behind the decision.
While North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson insisted that bosses at the Japanese company had told him the shut down was based on “global trends” rather than Brexit, with just 39 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, rumours abound that the carmaker is concerned about how new post-Brexit tariffs will hit the business.
Describing the anticipated announcement as “yet more bad news for the British manufacturing industry”, Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Do not let Brexiteers pretend for one second that this series of closures is a coincidence.”
With Honda not expected to comment on the fate of its Swindon plant until Tuesday, it’s unclear for now which side of the debate is correct.
But regardless of the reasons why, the closure represents a hammerblow for British business. In recent weeks, a series of companies have announced redundancies, collapses and moves out of the UK.
If you’ve struggled to keep up with business news amid Brexit deadlocks and Labour splits, here’s a round-up of the biggest updates you need to know.
On Saturday, regional British airline Flybmi filed for administration, saying it had been badly affected by spikes in fuel and carbon costs, as well uncertainty over Brexit.
Cancelling all of its flights, a spokesperson said: “We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option open to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable.”
The East Midlands-based airline, which has 376 staff, operated 17 regional jets on routes to 25 European cities. It carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights in 2018.
In a controversial move, Brexit-backing businessman James Dyson revealed plans in January to relocate the Dyson head office to Singapore.
The move – which will see the appliance-maker’s chief financial and legal officers move out of the UK – means the business will no longer be a British-registered company and Singapore will become the company’s main tax base.
However, no jobs will be lost and work at the former headquarters in Malmesbury will not be affected, the firm said.
While chief executive Jim Rowan denied the move was to do with Brexit, he added: “It’s to make us future-proof for where we see the biggest opportunities.”
The news came the year after Dyson announced that its new electric cars would be manufactured in Singapore, rather than the UK.
Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar Land Rover – which recently posted a £3.4bn loss for the last three months of 2018 – announced last month that it would be cutting 4,500 jobs globally, with the majority to come from its 40,000-strong UK workforce.
Announcing the job losses, the firm blamed a sales slowdown in China, a slump in the demand for diesel cars and uncertainty caused by Brexit for the cuts.
Unite, the UK’s biggest manufacturing union, called on ministers to do more to support the country’s car workers, saying they had been “caught in the crosshairs of the government’s botched handling of Brexit”.
More than 400 jobs were put at risk in January when electronics giant Philips revealed plans to close its factory in Suffolk – the company’s only UK manufacturing plant.
The company said it would close the factory – which manufactures baby bottles – in 2022 in order to move operations to Drachten in the Netherlands.
While chief executive Frans van Houter the company would have to rethink its manufacturing operations in the UK if the country left the customs union, Philips said that Brexit was not a deciding factor behind the move to close the factory.
French tyre manufacturer Michelin revealed in November that it would close its Dundee factory by 2020, putting around 850 jobs at risk.
Despite efforts by an action group to try and save the plan, the firm later reaffirmed its decision to cease manufacturing at the factory.
However, Michelin agreed to work with the Scottish government to transform the site into a new training and skills centre.