Will manufactures leave the UK if we Brexit?

BrexitOne of the chief arguments used by the pro-European Union lobby has been that in the situation that the UK leaves the EU then as many as one in then jobs will be lost, leaving our manufacturing sector decimated and our economy in tatters.  This is as many of 3.5 million jobs in total. But how likely is this apocalyptic future view to become a reality?

According to analysis published earlier this month, just eleven global engineering firms with sites in the UK provide Britain. This handful of firms provide around 90,000 of those jobs and, of course, support hundreds of thousands of secondary jobs. Thankfully, the CEOs of those eleven firms have each posted their colours to their respective masts in recent years. In turn they have all made a clear commitment to keeping their business within the UK even in the event that the British people opt to leave the EU, allocating millions of pounds of investment to plants in the UK.

Toyota, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Honda, Geely and Ford have all stated  thier ongoing committment to UK manufacturing, whatever the result of the anticipated referendum.

With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union looming, this apocalyptic view, presented by the pro-EU lobby seems to be becoming increasingly central to their arguments. However, given the facts of the matter it would seem that such an argument is unlikely to hold any weight. In short, if you’re worried about businesses and job creators leaving Britain after Brexit, don’t be. They won’t.


For those interested here is a summary of each of these large engineering firm’s positions:

• Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, has announced it would remain in the UK following Brexit, the CEO Akio Toyoda told the Financial Times,“we want to deliver even better cars, so when that capsule is opened after 100 years, all can see we’ve built a truly British company.” Toyota employs 4,000 at its car plant in Burnaston and engine plant in North Wales.

• General Motors-owned Vauxhall/Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has said, “We have plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. We will not turn our backs on England, life would carry on. We would continue to find ways to invest.” An Opel plant in Germany closed last year while GM invested £185m in its UK van manufacturing facility. Vauxhall employs 4,500 people in its two plants, plus a further 23,000 in its retail and UK supply chain (not included in overall figures).

• BMW-owned Mini announced a £250m investment in 2012 at its three UK plants to increase production, having announced an additional £500m for the latest Mini only the year before. Mini employs 5,600 people in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, and is one of the UK’s most productive manufacturers in the UK.

• BMW-owned Rolls Royce Motor Cars has dismissed the idea of relocating outside the UK. BMW CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told Reuters, “I’ve had lots of questions in my time in a way of why aren’t you opening up a plant somewhere else. I sad guys are you kidding me? This is so truly British that it belongs to Britain and it is also part of our success story that we are from Britain.” Rolls Royce directly employs more than 21,300 people in the UK, including over 12,000 at its Derby site, home to its Civil Aerospace and Submarine businesses as well as its car manufacturing business. Other key locations include Bristol, East Kilbride, Ansty, Barnoldswick, Inchinnan, Hucknall and Sunderland.

• Volkswagen-owned Bentley is committed to the UK. Board member for sales, Kevin Rose, has said, “We made our plans, we’ve announced the investments… and they were in full knowledge that there was a referendum so we believe in the UK” Bentley is the third largest automotive R&D investor in the UK, employing 3,600 people at its Pyms Lane site.

• Airbus has corrected claims it would cease investment in the UK. Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier said at the Paris Airshow he had “no intention” of pulling out in the event of Brexit. More than 4,000 people, including 2,000 engineers are employed at its Filton site.

• Jaguar Land Rover announced in March 2015 an investment of £600m in the west midlands including £400 for manufacturing the new Jaguar XF at Castle Bromwich and in September a further £120m in its Solihull plant – all despite the Brexit referendum being likely. Jaguar Land Rover, the country’s largest automotive business, has its headquarters in the UK and employs 25,000 of its 26,000 strong workforce within the UK, across five sites.

• Nissan announced in 2015 it would build its next generation Juke vehicle at its Sunderland plant in the UK, with £100m investment allocated. Nissan Chairman Paul Willcox said, “Nissan, obviously, is a global company. We export to over a hundred different countries from our production plant in Sunderland … the important point is not that referendum and the decision, whichever way that goes. Nissan had made a strong commitment to the UK so that won’t be pushed to one side, we have made that commitment, certainly beyond 2020.” Nissan employs a 6,700-strong workforce in Sunderland, many of whom are ex-miners and ship builders.

• Honda announced in 2015 a record £200m investment at Swindon – its only European factory – to produce a new five-door hatchback that would create a global manufacturing hub that would build a new five-door Civic. Honda employs around 3,400 people at its plant in Swindon
• Geely, the Chinese owner of the London Taxi Company has announced an investment of £250m to build a new Coventry plant creating 1,000 jobs to build a low-emission black cab.

• Ford announced in 2014 that it would invest £190m in Dagenham, and in 2015 a further £181m in its Bridgend engine manufacturing plant even though a Brexit referendum was on the cards. Ford employs 13,000 people in the UK.


  1. Either we stay in the EU and have more integration, laws and regulations or leave and spend the money we save on investing in ourselves and protecting British jobs. We could also be able to trade world wide without EU restrictions and less regulations mean more opportunities for small businesses. The future is bright if we leave the EU.

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    • I wholeheartedly agree. Manufacturers will welcome a less regulated operating environment.

      Europhiles seem to prefer foreign employers who send the profits back home to British owned businesses. We should be using the €50 million we pay them every day for EU membership to start and support British companies and create jobs.

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  2. Thank you for the post, and glad you are somehow finding the time in your busy life to do so.
    Here is an interesting viewpoint on the subject people may wish to read also. http://lindleyfrench.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/brexitwatch-brexit-will-make-mo.html

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  3. J Borough says

    This makes for a very interesting read in February 2019…

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  4. Meanwhile in the real world of Brexit, major manufacturers and financial business are leaving the UK – and all have cited Brexit as the reason they are moving out of the UK:


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  5. Tom Foale says

    This particular article is not looking so good anymore, is it…

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