Dagenham employer Ford hits out at “sensationalist” claims in national press it would quit Britain if UK left Europe

Workers at Ford's Dagenham centre, which employs 4,000 people

Workers at Ford's Dagenham centre, which employs 4,000 people - Credit: Archant

Reports a UK withdrawal from Europe could see major Dagenham employer Ford exit Britain altogether were “sensationalist”, the company has told the Barking and Dagenham Post.

Car production at Dagenham Ford

Car production at Dagenham Ford - Credit: Archant

The motor giant has hit out at claims in the national media its boss said it would “reassess its presence” in the UK if the country left the EU.

Stephen Odell was quoted by a newspaper as likening Britain’s withdrawal from Europe to “cutting your nose off to spite your face”, adding: “It cannot make any sense.”

But Ford, one of the UK’s leading foreign investors and an employer of 4,000 in Dagenham, said the paper’s headline implying the company might leave the UK if Britain left the EU was “sensationalist”.

“[Mr Odell’s] answers were specifically in response to the hypothetical question posed on a number of times by the journalist and was not a statement of intent by Ford Motor Company,” said a spokesman.

But he added the firm had been consistent in stressing the importance of access to the EU single market for UK-based businesses.

Mr Odell, chief executive of the car manufacturer’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the newspaper: “I don’t want to threaten the British government, ‘If you do this there are consequences’ [but] I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”

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“We’d take a look at what it meant.”

He added: “When the Russian industry reduced last year, we took a shift out of St Petersburg.”

He also said he believed the majority of British people were in favour of leaving Europe because of attention on the red tape bureaucracy that comes with EU membership.