Ford boss says UK interests best served as part of EU

Ford boss Stephen Odell has said the UK would be ‘cutting off its nose to spite its face’ if it left the EU.

Talking to The Telegraph at the Detroit Motor Show Mr Odell, Ford Chief Executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it made no sense to ‘turn your back on your largest trading partner’.

Ford

“People say, ‘That’s okay, you’ll still be able to trade with the EU’, but only if you comply [with EU regulations] without a voice into the process. I understand the frustrations, but not to the point of cutting your nose off to spite your face.”

While more than a century of domestic Ford production came to an end last year with the closure of the Southampton Transit factory, the company remains an important business for the UK economy and accounts for 15,000 jobs at its technical centre at Dunton, its diesel engine plant in Dagenham and its petrol engine production facility in Bridgend, Wales.

As a company it has consistently stressed the importance for the UK to have close links into the EU. While Odell didn’t threaten a withdrawal from the UK if the country left the EU, he did say that every option would need to be considered following such a significant event.

“I don’t want to threaten the British government,’ he told The Telegraph but added, “I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes and for employment purposes in the UK.

“You’d have to look at everything… clearly we wouldn’t be alone in doing that.”
Other bosses of manufacturers with sizeable interests in the UK have made similar warnings over a possible exit from the EU including Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn.

Like Odell he said options would naturally have to be addressed following an exit from the EU, but also said it was unlikely that the future of Nissan’s plant in Sunderland would be under threat in such circumstances.