By on February 13, 2019

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Ford Motor Company has reportedly informed British Prime Minister Theresa May of its tentative plan to move out of the United Kingdom. The automaker explained the situation to May during a private call with business leaders tasked with assessing how Brexit might impact the economy. Ford said it was already preparing to move its facilities — which include two engine plants, a transmission factory, and an R&D center — abroad.

With the European Union and British government still unable to establish trade terms, automakers are having a panic attack. Ford later told Reuters that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for its European-based businesses, citing earlier claims that it would cost the manufacturer up to $1 billion.

While that cost involves plenty of speculation, Ford thinks the probability of higher tariffs and supply chain issues under a no-deal situation are too high to ignore. In fact, the automaker was already making contingency plans last month after May failed to receive adequate support for her negotiated deal with the EU.

“We have long urged the UK Government and Parliament to work together to avoid the country leaving the EU on a no-deal, hard Brexit basis,” Ford told Reuters on Tuesday. “We will take whatever action is necessary to preserve the competitiveness of our European business.”

Ford previously said it already planned on cutting thousands of jobs and was considering plant closures in Europe as part of its larger restructuring plan. In the absence of a no-deal Brexit, many assumed Britain would receive preferential treatment due to its status as a key market for the company. However, with no trade deal in place, it’s looking increasingly likely that a worst case scenario will come to pass. Britain exits the EU on March 29th.

Automakers know that, until a new arrangement can be made, Britain and the EU will default to World Trade Organization rules — automatically imposing a 10-percent tariff on imports and exports.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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68 Comments on “Ford Threatens to Pull Out of the United Kingdom...”


  • avatar

    I presume Europe doesn’t make any money and this is therefore a great way to restructure the business and blame it in Brexit?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. Brexit is an easy cover story.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I think it may have to do more with Made in England and exported to the rest of Europe.

      Without some kind of trade agreement, there could be no import/export interaction. Maybe even tariffs.

      But the Brits did vote for leaving the EU, and I can understand that they will not accept dictates from Brussels – there is no such thing as The United States of Europe, where the Brits are subservient to the will of the EU Central gov’t.

      I say, America should seek an even closer trade alliance with the Brits – like in Hands Across the Water, and Special Relationship with the former Colonies.

      It worked in WWII. It’ll work even better now.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      You people seem uninformed. Toyota and Honda already warned the UK government months ago, as did Nissan, which decided to not build the X-Trail in England. Aston Martin, JLR and myriad other companies have complained as well. Ford was about last.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Ford has a long, storied and sometimes contentious history in the UK.

    At one time the Dagenham plant employed over 40,000 and had Europe’s largest neon signage.

    Ford had a dominant share of the UK’s vehicle market for many, many years. Iconic vehicles such as the Cortina, Mondeo, Transit, and Sierra.

    Ownership for a time of Jaguar and Land Rover.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Well, only fools would assume that EU would give “special” treatment deals to UK when they leave. The EU will make an example out of the UK as a deterrent for the other countries which are at the “wait and see stage”.
    UK can’t be very cheap to manufacture anything anyway. Why be there when Ford already has factories in other much cheaper to manufacture EU countries?
    When they try to bring the finished product back, UK will apply duty appropriately. As simple as that.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      We should give them special treatment. I’d go so far as to say we should treat them like the 51st state with regard to trade following Brexit. Special relationship and all.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        You are not all bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Heck is even extent them NAFTA membership. What an opportunity

      • 0 avatar
        cicero1

        absolutely Art. The reaction of the elites and EU powers to people seeking to reaffirm their sovereignty is sick. The EU will fail because the bigger it gets and more control member states lose to the EU the more strength the pro-sovereignty movements will pick up – see French protests, Italian elections, Poland, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        I totally agree Art. We should extend them a great deal.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          A trading bloc of the English speaking nations/dominions was something that historically a number of Canadian Prime Ministers advocated for.

          The UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the founding partners? Perhaps include the Republic of Ireland. The countries that were previously part of the British West Indies? Possibly Singapore?

          Other members of the Commonwealth or past members might be admitted or have associate status as they qualified/ were admitted by unanimous vote. Make Meghan Markle the titular head of the organization?

          • 0 avatar
            jmo2

            “Make Meghan Markle the titular head of the organization?”

            You’re walking to your car one night and you hear the click clack of tiny mid rise heals rapidly approaching. Suddenly ERII is all up in your grill with her hand crushing your junk. She looks you square in the eye and says, “That’s my f££ing job!” And just as soon as she was there? She’s gone again.

          • 0 avatar
            Heino

            We already do this under the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, so why not?

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            Agree with Art re trading pact. We (the U.S.) already have a special co-operative agreement with the other four and it works very well to the advantage of all. Google “five eyes”.

            Germany wants in, so far without success.

            Edit: see Heino already commented on it.

          • 0 avatar

            “The UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the founding partners? ”

            Arthur you forgot the elephant in the room – India. Add there also the most developed African countries South Africa and Nigeria. All continents are represented. Talk about diversity and superiority of English speaking countries vs French or German.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Brexit? Piece of cake. No problem.

    (Moral of the story? When your country contemplates something that basically changes everything, voters should THINK IT THROUGH. Otherwise, the “burn the barn down to save it” approach ends up with a half-burned-down barn.)

    • 0 avatar
      AdamOfAus

      So freedom and sovereignty are overrated? Got ya!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I see. So someone convinced Britain to join the EU at gunpoint? Got ya!

        I’m not saying they didn’t have good reasons to contemplate getting out of the EU…I’m saying that clearly no one gave much thought to how the exit would actually work, or what the consequences would be. If they had, then maybe they’d found an alternative. Instead, people were shouting “freedom and sovereignty,” and no one was shouting “OK, how does that happen without grenading our f**king economy”?

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          They joined the EU because they were stupid, short-sighted and greedy; like everyone who has ever voted for a progressive idea that they weren’t going to control in the administration phase. Now they want out because they have been force-fed an understanding of globalism, grooming gangs, speech codes, forced immigration, and sustainability. They’re not as ignorant as they were going in, and this is the last chance for them to have a say in their country’s prospects for survival. That’s worth weathering a trade war or trading more with a former colony other than India.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Anyone who thinks globalism stops because of Brexit is comically uninformed.

            The British concept of globalism was pretty simple not too long ago – they owned most of the globe.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Anyone who thinks Brexit isn’t about forced mass immigration is comically delusional. Forced mass immigration is how globalists are eliminating the limits western civilization has placed on their power. If you don’t understand all of this by now, you have been stripped of your ability to reason.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I see. “Globalists” are “forcing mass immigration.”

            So…for example, Assad is blowing the s**t out of his own people, thus forcing them to emigrate in mass, because he’s a closet globalist. And who better for Assad to team up with than Mr. Nationalism himself, Putin? I had no idea Assad was that smart.

            All those refugees should just volunteer to die, versus being pawns in this globalist game. Ditto for everyone else who’s trying to flee whatever craphole they live in.

            Got it.

            (I sure appreciate this Wednesday afternoon comedy, by the way. Keep ’em coming.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            EU vis-à-vis the United Kingdom is simply nothing more than rule by a foreign dictatorship (European Commission). The better questions are why and how did this come about in the first place?

            “Because the European Parliament is a false; pseudo-democratic institution. Its no more than democratic disguise for the [European] Commission. The idea its a democracy is absurd.”

            Sir James Goldsmith, 1994, Member of European Parliament

            youtu.be/wwmOkaKh3-s?t=2640

            Appointed and rubber stamped:

            “Unlike in the Council of the European Union, where members are directly and indirectly elected, and the European Parliament, where members are directly elected, the Commissioners are proposed by the Council of the European Union, on the basis of suggestions made by the national governments, and then appointed by the European Council after the approval of the European Parliament”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Commission

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Perhaps Freedmike could come back when he figures out the difference between emigration and immigration. The western countries are being forced to accept masses of immigrants to their welfare roles. People needn’t be forced to jump on the gravy train. Globalist NGOs are having a laugh at climate change cultists while they flood large carbon footprint western countries with migrants from primitive low carbon footprint countries as they use climate change as an excuse to strip individual rights.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            So there were literally no other ways for the UK to reaffirm their sovereignty? No negotiation, planning or thought? Just an impulsive vote that will torpedo their economy? Interesting

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>voters should THINK IT THROUGH

      yes, but the opposite of what you imply: more likely they were uniformed the first time and then had 40 years of experience to think it through

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’re confusing the decision to leave with how it was done. They had all kinds of legitimate reasons to believe the arrangement had soured. The problem was that they focused on that, versus the specifics of how leaving would actually work, and the people pushing it certainly didn’t give the voters a full heads up on all the particulars. I mean, seriously…if the pro-Brexit folks had run ads saying “Vote for Brexit – because it’s going to go so t*ts up that major employers are going to threaten to leave, and we may have to evacuate the Queen,” would it have passed? I don’t think so.

        Politics these days are too focused on feelings and emotions, and when you’re focused on that, you’re not focusing on how to actually get s**t done, or someone’s getting s**t that makes no sense done WHILE you’re focusing on your feelings. Doesn’t sound like that problem’s exclusive to the Brits, does it?

        • 0 avatar
          jacob_coulter

          The reason it’s “difficult” is the people that lost (Eurocrats) are trying to teach the uppity peasants a lesson. They even did petty things like ban tea kettles for export right after the Brexit vote.

          This really isn’t that difficult, somehow trade happened in Europe before the EU, and the UK is able to easily trade with countries that aren’t in the EU (like the US) But the EU is making it difficult and punitive because it’s acting like a jilted lover.

          But the unelected bureaucrats are determined to make this nasty because they know their little fiefdom is falling apart.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    On the bright side, this will mean far fewer recalls for British drivers.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The UK is a net importer of a million cars a year. Does anyone believe Ford honestly thinks their European operations will be better off without a piece of that? They’re in bed with global evil. It really doesn’t matter how badly Brexit hurts in the short term. The alternative was annihilation. Forfeiting national and local sovereignty to people with your extinction on their calendars to appease an assortment of short-sighted selfish interests is the stuff of people who still haven’t figured out Trump is the best thing to happen in decades.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yes, the rotting soybeans, the auto industry layoffs, the ballooning debt, the record breaking shutdowns, the stalled trade talks with China, Iran back to building nukes….

      Trump is winning so hard he’s driving the suicide rate in the US- especially among his supporters- up to record levels. I personally know several Trumpers whose alcholism has intensified since his election. They just can’t handle all the winning

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        52% approval rating! Iran building nukes is probably your funniest point. Who do you suppose wanted that to happen? I know you can’t figure it out. At least you probably have a high self opinion.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I maintain that this is an opportunity. The United Kingdom is a wealthy and powerful nation. The EU is cutting off their nose to spite their face. They are one of the big 3 in Europe and if the EU wants to isolate them to send a message we should bring them tighter into the fold. Historically the Brits are our staunchest Ally. Integrate them into our own markets, even so far as NAFTA membership.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I agree. If the EU is looking to “punish” the UK for Brexit, the US could definitely take good advantage of the situation.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      +1, Art V,

      The EU is certainly trying to make an example of the UK’s (voted for by the population) split.

      The EU knows that there are more “burning barns” out there, and are going to do everything they can do to keep the UK in the fold. Why oh why would the UK never have changed to the Euro? Why would the most vocal (yet minority) of UK residents want a “do-over” on the break-up?

      I’ve got an office in London, and vividly remember the Brexit vote while I was in town. All you have to do is look at the voter breakdown of how Brexit won (urban areas, NO, rest of the country, YES) and it is no wonder why the EU thinks it can re-engineer another vote to keep the UK in the fold.

      Do the hard break and do your country a favor. Let Merkel run the floundering EU. After all, she has such a stellar record regarding energy imports and immigration.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        When I was growing up in Canada in the 1950s and ’60s, it was common for American companies to set up Canadian subsidiaries so they could do business there without paying import duties. The subsidiary’s name was simply the American parent company’s name with “Canada” appended to it. Most company functions (e.g. top management, product development) were were located in the US. All they had in Canada was a factory big enough to serve the Canadian market. As a result, Canada was said to have a “branch plant” economy. I don’t see why Ford couldn’t do the same in the UK unless they want out of there for other reasons and are using Brexit as an excuse.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Great idea, Art! The question, though, is whether the Brits would want that. I can think of historical and cultural reasons why they might not want to. It’d probably feel a lot like a parent being forced to move in with the kids.

      And with the Soviet Union – I mean, Russia – rearing its’ ugly head, we’d have to tread REALLY carefully when it comes to undermining the EU.

      I have a feeling that’s why we haven’t heard much talk about this, no matter how much sense it makes.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Britain under the EU has forfeited ownership of its remaining automakers to Germany and India. You think trading with the US would be some sort of ego blow? Are you for real? The Russians aren’t nearly as much of a threat to the planet as the people who control the EU. Enabling the EU is like letting pedophiles take care of your toddlers because the neighbor’s teenage daughter watched pay-per-view on your Amazon Prime account last time she babysat. If the EU forms an army, it will be to crush dissent within the EU.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          No, Todd, I didn’t say trading with us would be an ego blow. After all, they’ve been trading with us for what – 230 years now? I’d say they’re over that.

          I said that dumping their current EU-style integrated economy so they could have the same setup with might not sit real well with them. Considering their history, that makes sense.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Todd your rhetoric is ratcheted way up on this topic. The EU is not evil, it is merely a bureaucracy.

          The former Soviet Union and its KGB trained successors are on the other hand evil. Gulags, armed suppression, invasions of other nations, one party states, elimination of free media, and the murder of dissidents are all part of their normal operating procedures.

          The U.S and the west defeated them in the 1980’s, only to let them rise again. And now through bots and ‘useful idiots’ they are influencing the voting patterns in their democratic opponents. Pure propaganda, which convinces or sways those with little knowledge or understanding of history.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            You do realize that the EU is doing almost everything that the Russians have done, only they’re doing it to countries that were relatively free within the past century? I’d suggest you do some research, or at least open your eyes.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Right, Todd, the Soviets just let their satellite states join with a vote and then withdraw with a vote, like the UK has done. Oh, and yeah…gulags. And the KGB. People disappearing in the middle of the night. That stuff’s absolutely epidemic all over the EU. That’s why migrants flee dictatorships to go there – their current dictators are just so…effiminate. They want the real deal.

            He’ll be here all week, folks. Try the veal. Tip your waiter.

          • 0 avatar
            Kendahl

            The EU wants to be far more than a bureaucracy. Its goal is to become a federal government of Europe under which member countries are demoted to the status of subservient states or provinces. It uses economic penalties to force on them continent wide policies in matters of strictly local significance the way the US federal government forced the 55 mph national speed limit on the states.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @ToddA: The USSR invaded nations, executed thousands upon thousands, committed genocide in the Ukraine, negotiated a peace pact with Nazi Germany, built an ‘Iron Curtain’ around their occupied territories.

            And under Putin the Russians hope to recreate their empire.

            And you compare this with the E.U.?

            The E.U. bureaucrats hope to create a federation, which is exactly what the USA was, a federation of states.

            It astounds me that when Russia presented itself as a ‘communist’ state the GOP/conservative Americans viewed it as threat to America’s existence. Now although the Russian state has the same aims and is controlled by those trained in the USSR, these same Americans now make excuses for it, because Russia is now viewed as totalitarian/fascist.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, Kendahl, if countries want to be part of a federal republic, then they’re free to join. If they don’t, then they can leave, like the UK’s doing. Clearly the EU has 99 problems, but “jackboot dictatorship” isn’t one of them.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            George Orwell said it best: “We’ve always been at war with Eurasia…”

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    QOTD: favorite British Ford vehicles.
    I’ll go with the Cortina and the Mid-60’s-80’s Transit Van.
    Most vehicles are part of the Ford Europe group.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I just wish Ford wouldnt have given away their luxury group (JLR,Volvo) for pennies on the dollar in the recession.That left them with only a productless Lincoln in the high profit luxury segments.They would surely be in a better position than they are now.
    One counterpoint though is that they would have mismanaged the engineering talent from these marks and ran them into the ground.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    I’ll pick the 2.8 Cologne parked in the hood of my 1974 Capri. I loved that car, the manual crank sunroof, the copper color, the 4-speed manual (I picked it up with my mother, I’d never driven a manual in my life but I learned on the interstate on my way home), it provided me many miles of fun during my high school years and the first 2 years of college.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    “Ford Threatens to Pull Out of the United Kingdom”

    Promises, promises…

  • avatar
    jatz

    Surrender, Blighty!

    Calais wants its colon back.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Ms. May should tell Ford: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Nobody except the employees would miss Ford if they disappeared tomorrow. With all the Ford layoffs taking place in Europe, people may actually cheer if Ford goes.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    All these comments and no one citing The Economist.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    In their understandable desire to get away from the socialist parasites in Brussels, The UK is going to be economically hurt. Maybe the EU countries should vote to get rid of the tapeworms in Brussels.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt51

      How is the UK going to be hurt? They will no longer have to be a net contributor to the EU. Instead of importing goods from the EU, they will be free to import lower cost goods from anywhere in the world. Leaving the EU will benefit the British financially, but will cost France and Germany.
      If Ford leaves the UK, the British should no longer let Ford sell cars there. Now that sounds like a win for the British.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Is Ford even profitable in Europe? Hyundai/Kia is the rising star.

  • avatar
    loopy55

    Putin is laughing his butt off. Brexit and the 2016 election were the greatest success stories of Russian misinformation campaigns and influence peddling of all time. And what short memories everyone has. A United Europe rose out of the ashes of WWII and is responsible for the longest period of peace between western countries ever. Britain is cutting off its nose to spite its face and the majority regret their decision to leave the EU.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      ↑this

      The UK being a net importer of food, post-Brexit Britain is first and foremost going on a diet. Their suppliers in the EU are going to get hit, too.

      I suppose those of us across the pond could be charitable by buying Civic hatchbacks, Minis, Infiniti Q30s, and Morgans by the boatload.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Instead of buying more expensive food from France, the UK will purchase lower priced food from Canada, Australia and the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      The EU zone allows for large and fast food deliveries from the continent to the UK. Delivery trucks roll on and off ships without customs interruptions. Orders placed can arrive in the UK on the same day. The reintroduction of customs/tariffs is anticipated to cause huge backups and short term food shortages.

      Importing food from the other Five Eyes countries across a longer distance than the English Channel would be a bit more difficult.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Yes, but the UK would also have lower food costs. Including produce from South America, the British standard of living will increase. French farmers will lose out.


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