Unite: Ford will not be allowed to use Brexit uncertainty as a “smokescreen” to dismantle its UK operations

Unite has backed automotive manufacturer Ford’s statement that a hard Brexit would be “disastrous” for British industry but said leaving the EU must not be used as a “smokescreen” to dismantle the firm’s UK operations.

Ford’s European boss Steven Armstrong told the BBC that a no deal Brexit “would be pretty disastrous” and could jeopardise the firm’s future in the UK.

Armstrong said a hard Brexit would “force (Ford) to think about what our future investment strategy for the UK would be” and that a Canada style deal with the EU would not be in the firm’s interests.

Unite Wales released a statement in response to Armstrong’s comments.

It said: “Unite agrees with Steven Armstrong that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be a disastrous outcome for manufacturing and the UK economy.

“Our Union has long been calling for a Brexit that secures barrier-free access to the Single Market and a customs union with the EU.

“We will not however allow Ford to use the thick fog of Brexit as a smokescreen to dismantle its UK operations.

“The future of Ford Bridgend must not be viewed solely through the prism of Brexit. Unite has been calling for clarity from Ford regarding its long term plans for the site pre-dating the Brexit referendum.

“Ford Bridgend has a world class workforce, with state of the art engine technology. The UK is Ford’s 3rd largest market in the world and the largest in Europe.

“The company should remember that its employees, and its customers, expect it to show them the loyalty they deserve, despite the uncertain times that lie ahead.

“Ford UK need to end the ongoing uncertainty and explain their future investment strategy for their UK plants, including Bridgend.

“Unite is committed to working closely with Ford, Welsh Government and the UK Government to secure the future of the Ford Bridgend plant.

“Its importance to the Welsh economy is pivotal; tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs depend on it.

“Although Brexit is posing huge challenges we need to collectively work together to navigate a route to a prosperous future for Bridgend”.