BMW is planning to shut down its Oxford plant on the same day the UK leaves the EU, in a bid to minimize the potential disruption that a no-deal Brexit would create, stated the company on Tuesday.
The company said in a statement that it would move the shutdown, which will last several weeks, to coincide with Brexit in order to minimize any disruption risks in case that a no exit deal is agreed. The Oxford plant is the site where the Mini is produced.
“Planned annual maintenance periods at BMW Group production sites allow essential updating and equipment replacement to be completed over several weeks, while there is no production taking place,” a BMW spokesperson stated.
“As a responsible organisation, we have scheduled next year’s annual maintenance period at Mini Plant Oxford to start on 1 April, when the UK exits the EU, to minimise the risk of any possible short-term parts-supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. While we believe this worst case scenario is an unlikely outcome, we have to plan for it.” The spokesperson continued.
“We remain committed to our operations in Britain, which is the only country in the world where we manufacture for all three of our automotive brands.” The spokesperson concluded.
Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite the Union stated that BMW’s decision “underlines the uncertainty facing one of the UK’s flagship industries”, which he stated was the result of “chaotic management” of Brexit negotiations by the government.
“Maintenance work and preparing the Cowley plant for the new electric mini would usually have taken place in the summer months, but faced with the UK government’s shambolic approach to Brexit negotiations and the looming chaos of a no-deal, BMW has taken the sensible step to bring forward this essential work,” added Burke.
“Unite is working with businesses like BMW to mitigate the worst effects of the Tories’ Brexit chaos, but working people are losing out as the uncertainty bites and carmakers stall on investment plans.” He continued.
“Theresa May’s Tory government needs to stop gambling with UK jobs and the future of one of the jewels in Britain’s manufacturing crown by getting a Brexit deal that secures frictionless trade and tariff-free access to the European Union.” He concluded.
BMW’s announcement comes amid several warnings from across the UK motor industry about the threat posed by a departure from the EU without an agreement in place.