Ford Motor Co. would reconsider its operations in the United Kingdom if the country votes in favor of leaving the European Union. According to Steve Odell, head of Ford's operations in Europe, the US carmaker would have to re-evaluate its operations if the UK pulled out of the 28-member trading bloc in a proposed referendum.
"Clearly we wouldn't be alone in doing that. Would it mean tariffs? Would it mean duties? We'd take a look at what it meant," Odell told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He said that he would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes as well as for employment purposes in the UK. Nissan made a similar warning in 2013.
The Japanese carmaker also has substantial operations in the UK and employs thousands of people. Ford shut down its van factory in Southampton, southern England, in July and closed an associated stamping facility in Dagenham, east London, thus ending its vehicle manufacturing in the UK.
Ford, however, still employs nearly 15,000 people in the country building and developing engines -- supporting a further 100,000 jobs through its network of suppliers and dealers, the US company said on its Web site. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that he would renegotiate the terms of the UK's EU membership before conducting an in-out referendum by 2017 if his ruling Conservatives returns to power after elections in May 2015.
The center-right party is currently behind in the polls and faces an increasing threat from the small UK Independence Party (UKIP), which seeks to have the UK leave the EU.
According to Odell, he strongly discouraged the UK from leaving the EU but acknowledged that if the public were asked today, most of them would be supportive of an exit as there was strong focus on the red tape that came with EU membership instead of the benefits. "If they voted today, the common vote… would be to leave Europe." [source: Reuters]