Ford has made plans to move manufacturing resources outside of the UK in the event of the nation leaving the European Union in March without having agreed a trade deal with the bloc of countries.

According to a report in The Times, Ford warned Prime Minister Theresa May on a private telephone call with business leaders that it was preparing alternative sites abroad in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

An official company response to the story read: “Such a situation [as no-deal] would be catastrophic for the UK auto industry and Ford’s manufacturing operations in the country.”

Ford employs 13,000 staff in the UK. The official SMMT results for 2018 showed that the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus were the first and fifth bestselling vehicles in the UK, with 146, 474 combined registrations between the two models.

Around 54% of the UK’s automotive exports are to nations within the European Union. The UK is currently the second biggest single nation market in the bloc behind Germany. Currently around 1100 trucks arrive in the country every day from the EU delivering car and engine parts.

In January the BBC reported that Ford was planning on cutting 1,000 manufacturing jobs by 2021 from its plant in Bridgend, Wales. Ford refused to confirm this story but did announce it was consulting with unions.

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As well as Ford’s potential plans to leave the UK manufacturing sector, concerns were raised regarding Nissan’s discontinuing of plans to build the X-Trail at its Sunderland plant. While concerns over Brexit were included in the reasoning for Nissan’s decisions, the OEM also made clear the significant decline in diesel sales across Europe was a notable contributing factor.

In January the SMMT repeated its warning on the risks of a no-deal Brexit to the UK car industry, after figures revealed that investment in the sector nearly halved in 2018.

Fresh inward investment in the automotive sector was down almost half (-46.5%) on 2017 to £588.6m. The SMMT placed blame for the decline over uncertainty with the UK’s future trading prospects with the EU limiting investment last year.