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British minister to request Honda rethink plant shutdown

British business secretary Greg Clark will travel to Japan to ask Honda Motors Co to rethink its recent decision to close a car plant in his country, according to a local media report.
The secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy is considering offering financial assistance to the Japanese automaker in a meeting with Honda executives who recently decided to close the company's plant in Swindon, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
Honda said earlier this month it will end in 2021 production at the Swindon factory, which is the company's only European car plant, at a cost of 3,500 jobs. The decision came amid uncertainties over the course of Britain's scheduled exit from the European Union on March 29.
The Japanese automaker did not directly attribute its decision to Brexit, saying it was made to speed up development of electrified cars, but said it is worried about possible parts supply disruptions.
Britain set up a task force made up of members from the government and local businesses to discuss how to support workers affected by Honda's plant closure.
The Daily Telegraph quoted a task force source as saying, "Once a viable package has been put together in a few weeks, Greg has got to get on a plane to Japan to make the case."
The source also said, "Greg needs to show Honda that the UK can offer stability and is still a good place to build cars," according to the daily.
Honda's decision followed a Nissan Motor Co announcement revealing that it was canceling plans to produce its next-generation SUV at its Sunderland plant in northeastern England. Nissan said it needed to optimize its regional investment strategy while indicating Brexit uncertainty also played a role.


© KYODO
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