Car giant Honda has confirmed plans to close its UK factory in 2021, with the loss of thousands of jobs.
The Japanese company told workers at the Swindon factory that following a “meaningful and robust” consultation, no viable alternatives to the closure have been found.
The plant, which employs 3,500 workers, will close at the end of the current model’s production lifecycle, in 2021.
Honda said a number of organisations and groups took part in the consultation, including the Government and external consultants engaged by the Unite union.
A statement said: “The decision to close the plant is part of Honda’s broader global strategy in response to changes to the automotive industry.
“As previously communicated in February, Honda is accelerating its electrification plans, and as a result resources, capabilities and production systems for electrified vehicles will be focused in regions with a high volume of customer demand.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Clearly this is a disappointing decision despite the best efforts of local MPs, civic and business leaders and the trade unions since Honda’s initial announcement in February.
“We recognise this is a worrying time for affected employees, their families and businesses (which are) part of the supply chain.”
The company will now move to discuss redundancy packages and look at the impact on individual roles up until production ends.
Honda director Jason Smith, said: “It is with a heavy heart that today we confirm the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon.
“We understand the impact this decision has on our associates, suppliers and the wider community.
“We are committed to continuing to support them throughout the next phases of the consultation process.”
Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “We await the detailed reasons from Honda, but Unite believes that our alternative case to keep Honda Swindon open added up and was likely to be backed by the Government with public money.
“It would have made Honda a global leader in emerging battery technology and in a strong position to exploit the growing global market for electric vehicles in the coming years.
“Instead we have this body blow which is nothing short of a betrayal of the workforce, customers and the wider supply chain which relies on Honda Swindon for work.
“Unite can only conclude that Honda is taking a strategic decision to retreat out of Europe in favour of protecting its North American operations and avoiding president Trump’s tariff threat on cars made in Europe.
“Unite will be consulting with its members on our next steps in the coming days.”
Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow business secretary, said: “This is devastating news for the workers who have fought tooth and nail to save their jobs.
“The impact of today’s announcement will be felt right across the local community and the wider supply chain.
“Workers and Unite had compiled an alternative case to keep Honda Swindon open, which would have made Honda a global leader in emerging battery technology and well placed for the production of electric vehicles in the coming years to Britain and global markets.
“We await the Government’s response and urge it to pull out all the stops to ensure that Honda reconsiders its decision, as well as examining other possible alternative options to save jobs and keep this vital plant in production.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Having chaired the initial Honda Swindon Taskforce meeting, I am clearly disappointed that the outcome of Honda’s consultation is to close the Swindon plant, despite the best efforts of civic and business leaders as well as trade union representatives and Honda UK workers.
“As the company starts the next phase of its consultation, they have stated they will continue to work with the Honda Swindon Taskforce.
“We will ensure everything is being done to support those affected and to continue Swindon’s record of attracting investment to create highly-skilled jobs that offer fulfilling careers for years to come.”
Unite regional secretary Steve Preddy said: “Workers were shunted into a room and shown a DVD confirming the plant closure. They were then told if they had any questions to go to their union rep or HR.
“Workers have been left stunned by the utter callousness of the company, which has chosen to deliver this devastating news to their loyal workforce first by media leaks and then by DVD. It’s unbelievably dehumanising.”