Anti-Brexit Narrative on Ford Cuts Unravels as Jobs Axe Falls on Germany, France

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The anti-Brexit narrative on expected job losses at Ford’s facilities in Wales is unravelling as the car manufacturer announces further cutbacks in Continental Europe and Russia.

Mainstream broadcasters and Remain-leaning politicians and commentators made much of the U.S. firm’s announcement that it will likely be closing its Bridgend engine plant in South Wales, strongly suggesting that Brexit was to blame for the decision.

While not yet abandoned, this narrative appears increasingly untenable now that Ford has announced the axe will also be falling on Germany and France — which remain at the heart of the European Union and the European integration project — with the former set to lose thousands more jobs than Britain and the latter losing its Ford Aquitaine Industries Transmission Plant.

Ford will also be selling off the Kechnec Transmission Plant in Slovakia, and shuttering three plants in the Russian Federation.

“Ford will be a more targeted business in Europe, consistent with the company’s global redesign, generating higher returns through our focus on customer needs and a lean structure,” confirmed Stuart Rowley, who leads Ford in Europe.

“Separating employees and closing plants are the hardest decisions we make,” Rowley said, but added that the company would be “moving forward and focused on building a long-term sustainable future.”

“Ford’s cost-cutting moves in Europe have long been expected and are overdue,” explained Michelle Krebs, a senior Autotrader analyst, in comments to the Detroit Free Press.

“These cuts, while painful for employees, should help Ford’s bottom line, much as GM’s sell-off of European operations did,” she added, warning that “This is hardly the beginning” for the company, which lost hundreds of millions in the European market in 2018.

Far from being a boon to the British economy with respect to Ford jobs, the European Union was infamously implicated in the closure of a 40-year-old assembly line in Southampton — which employed close the 1,500 British workers — when the European Investment Bank gave Ford a loan worth £80 million to help it move its operations to Turkey, which is inside the EU’s customs union for manufactured goods, some years ago.

More recently, Land Rover Jaguar announced it would be building the new model of its iconic Defender — the original being killed off by EU emissions regulations — in Slovakia, with Britain powerless to punish the firm for shifting production to the lower-pay Central European country by EU Single Market rules on tariff-free trade between member-states.

The EU Commission also approved €125 million in investment aid from the Slovakian government to assist the move.

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