UK Business Secretary, Greg Clark says Honda’s decision to shutter its British plant in Swindon is “devastating” with the potential loss of all 3,500 jobs at the site.

The Japanese manufacturer is restructuring its global manufacturing network and will shut its UK manufacturing facilities at Swindon in 2021. It will also cease manufacturing in Turkey and look to consolidate future production at plants in North America and Japan.

The company said the restructure comes as ‘Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry’.

It said the ‘significant challenges of electrification will see Honda revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes’

“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,” said the Business Secretary. “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 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.”

British labour body, Unite, said it would enter into “meaningful consultations with the Honda management” to examine the business case for the factory’s future, although it does not give any indication what this could entail.

“We acknowledge the global challenges Honda has outlined in its statement, but we don’t accept this plant, with its highly skilled and dedicated workforce, does not have a viable future,” said Unite national officer for the automotive sector, Des Quinn.