The Japanese car giant announced plans to close down its Swindon factory in 2021, which will mean 3,500 people will lose their jobs.
The firm said the decision was taken as part of a move towards making more electric cars and responding to changes in the global automotive market – and was not linked to Brexit.
But one of the workers affected told Channel 4 News on Monday evening that he blamed the Government’s handling of Brexit, having worked at the factory for 24 years.
The Honda worker told Channel 4 News the Government’s handling of Brexit ‘had not helped’ (Image: Channel 4 News)
The unnamed man said: “The Government’s completely incompetent handling of the thing doesn’t help either does it.
“What are we like 44 days away from Brexit and they haven’t got a clue, they can’t even decide for themselves what Brexit means. This is idiocy of epic proportions.”
Representatives from Honda claimed that the plans to shut the plant that produces 150,000 cars a year that have not been taken due to Brexit.
Honda Europe senior vice president Ian Howells told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “This is not a Brexit related issue for us.
“These other changes which are now coming at us globally we have to now respond to.”
He added: “In terms of where we are in our investment in the UK, then I’m afraid we are in a position where our investment and our focus needs to go somewhere else. It can’t be in the UK.
“And this is really a challenge for us on a global basis and not decisions being made locally by either ourselves, or equally by the UK Government.”
A Honda worker looks out of a window in a office building at the Honda car assembly plant (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Consultation with the Unite union will begin today, and Honda said it will be working closely with its workforce over the months ahead.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Honda have announced, as part of a global restructuring, plans to close their Swindon plant in 2021; and instead manufacture and export the new Civic model into Europe from Japan.
“As Honda have said, this is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market. Regardless, this is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK.
“This news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain.
“I will convene 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.
“The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transition to new technology. The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now.”
Additional reporting from Press Association.