Honda officially closes United Kingdom manufacturing operations

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Whilst Honda's decision to close its site in Swindon, southern England - its only European vehicle plant - is not Brexit related, its Japanese rivals have cited concern over this issue in their recent announcements.

The news spread gloom in the auto industry that has seen several manufacturers - including Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover - eithercurtail operations and investment or move offices to Europe.

Vehicle giant Honda has confirmed it plans to close its factory in Swindon in 2021 with the loss of 3,500 jobs.

Honda Motor Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo bows his head as he arrives at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, February 19, 2019.

If Honda says it is shutting the factory, it will be one of several automakers reassessing their presence in the United Kingdom and Europe.

The announcement comes just weeks after Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs, or about 10% of its workforce. Justin Tomlinson, the North Swindon Conservative MP and Department of Welfare and Pensions Minister said that plans were already underway to find solutions to the problem at hand. Swindon is now Honda's only production base within the EU.

The plant will be joined in closure by the firm's smaller facility in Turkey, which also makes the Civic, although Honda's European Union headquarters will still be based in the UK. The company also announced a year and a half ago it would shut down a plant in Japan, also in 2022. This restructure comes as Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry. They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.

"Regardless, this is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK", Clark said in a statement.

Honda said Brexit was not to blame for the decision, but union officials and opposition MPs said it was obvious uncertainty over the UK's future trading relationships played a part.

The recently agreed EU-Japan trade agreement means tariffs on cars from Japan to the bloc will be eliminated, while Britain is struggling to make progress on talks over post-Brexit trade relations with Tokyo.

If Honda's decision is made final, it will add to a growing list of foreign manufacturers that have chose to scale back production in the UK.

Nissan Motor Co. said it will cancel plans to produce its next-generation SUV at its Sunderland plant in northeastern England, saying it needed to optimize its regional investment strategy, while indicating Brexit obscurity also played a role.

The Swindon plant, which now employs 3,500 people and produces engines and the Civic sedan, is not the company's only cutback. Consultation with potentially affected employees will begin today, Honda says.