The manufacturer’s decision to close its Swindon plant in 2021, which could cost up to 3,500 jobs, ensured the former Brexit campaign drew criticism for its optimism over the company remaining in Britain.
Citing a report from the Swindon Advertiser, the campaign group’s media partner, Westmonster, proudly proclaimed last September that Honda would continue to produce cars domestically.
This was duly tweeted out by the official Leave.EU Twitter account, who added: “Honda “right behind continued production” at its UK base in Swindon, whatever happens with Brexit.
“Don’t expect the mainstream media to bang on about this too much though, far too positive…!”
The now infamous tweet came exactly two years after the account boasted the new 10th generation Honda Civic would ensure “Honda makes UK its ‘global hub’.”
Days later, Brexiteer North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson echoed this and said: “Let it go, where is the Project Fear recession and mass unemployment? Strong growth and record employment.”
This is not the only time that Leave.EU has talked up Honda – during the 2016 campaign, they put out a graphic claiming that “job creators”, including Honda, would not leave Britain after Brexit.
All eight companies listed on the image have either announced or hinted that they will move production out of the UK following an increasingly likely no-deal Brexit.
Nigel Farage, an integral part of the Leave.EU campaign, was forced to defend himself yesterday on his LBC show when responding to an anonymous text reading, “Are you ready to apologise Farage? Honda pulls out – is this the glorious Brexit future you promised?”
Nigel Farage speaks with a supporter in 2016 (Photo: Getty)
The former Ukip leader said: “This decision is based on global trends and not Brexit.”
Blaming the government’s focus on diesel cars, he added that Citigroup’s recently agreed £1.2bn deal to buy a Canary Wharf skyscraper – which follows UBS and Goldman Sachs’ decisions to invest last year – shows massive confidence in a post-Brexit Britain.
Last January, Mr Farage claimed that many British businesses wanted a “hard” Brexit under WTO rules.
He said: “What I’ve picked up is a growing number of voices of businesses saying that if they’re going to mess us about, we’ll get out of this thing and go for WTO rules.”
But later that year, amidst many businesses presenting their Brexit concerns, Mr Farage called the manufacturing industry too small to listen to, adding: “Manufacturing is 10 percent of the UK economy, and you’ve got to think about the rest of it.”
‘A failed economic project’
Jacob Rees-Mogg said Brexit would be ‘good for industry.’ (Image: BBC)
Jacob-Rees Mogg also faced a barrage on social media as he tweeted out: “We are leaving a failed economic project” moments after the Honda news broke.
This morning, Honda UK boss Ian Howells told Radio 4: “This is not a Brexit related issue.”
However, remain-backing politicians were keen to air their warnings about the dangers that Brexit presented for British business.
Labour MP David Lammy said: “Do not let Brexiteers pretend for one second that this series of closures is a coincidence.”
Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes, wrote: “Honda joins Nissan, Ford, JLR, Panasonic, Sony, Dyson, Phillips, Hitachi, Toshiba, FlyBMI in showing real world consequences of #Brexit.”