Ford is the latest major foreign investor to sound the same warning, as the top-selling car manufacturer in Britain said it would be forced to reconsider its UK operations if the country voted in favor of leaving the European Union.
Steve Odell, chief executive of Ford’s operations in Europe, said the second-largest U.S. carmaker would have to re-evaluate its operations if Britain 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 Telegraph newspaper. “I would strongly advise against leaving the EU for business purposes, and for employment purposes in the UK.”
Ford’s warning follows a similar message last year from Japanese car giant Nissan which also has substantial operations in the UK employing thousands of people.
The firm employs nearly 15,000 people in Britain, who mainly build and develop engines, and supports a further 100,000 jobs through its network of suppliers and dealers, the company said on its website.
Prime Minister David Cameron promised voters he would renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership before holding an in-out referendum by 2017 if his ruling Conservatives were returned to power after elections due in May 2015.
Odell said he strongly discouraged Britain from leaving the EU but accepted if the public were asked today, most would support an exit as there was such a strong focus on the red tape that came with EU membership rather than the benefits.