Ford Bridgend: Brexit not a factor in closing plant, says Ford Europe boss

Brexit was not a factor in Ford’s decision to close its engine plant in Bridgend, the company’s European boss has said.

Steven Armstrong told MPs that leaving the EU is “not the reason” behind the closure.

Ford announced last month that the plant in south Wales would close in 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Mr Armstrong told MPs that a downturn in demand meant the plant was no longer sustainable.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has claimed that Brexit was in the background of the decision to close the site.

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“We’ve been talking a long time about the implications of a hard Brexit,” Ford of Europe chairman Mr Armstrong said. “I’ve been very vocal publicly around the fact that a no deal Brexit would be a catastrophe for our industry.

“I want to make it very clear the sustainability of the Bridgend plan is not directly linked to whether we do or don’t believe there will be a hard Brexit.”

He added: “Brexit is not the reason.”

Mr Armstrong also said the decision to close the plant was delegated from company bosses in Detroit and made by the British board on 5 June.

Cardiff North Labour MP Anna McMorrin said Ford is the “kind of company that shafts its British workers”. Mr Armstrong denied it was the case.

He was also asked if other UK factories were safe, and under a hard Brexit scenario. He said: “If we face tariffs and friction at borders, that would put significant burden on our business – $1bn year cost (£798m). That would cause us to have to think what our footprint would be.”

Mr Armstrong added: “We believe over time that electrification is the way forward for the industry, the speed with which that electrification comes has consequences as we try to disposition the historic assets we have got.

“Unfortunately Bridgend is one of the first being impacted by that.”