HONDA first announced that it would close its Swindon plant by 2021 on February 19.

The news was leaked to Sky News the day before the announcement, which meant that the first time the plant’s 3,500 workers heard that their jobs were in jeopardy was from TV, radio or social media accounts covering the story. The international car manufacturer revealed it made the decision due to a restructure of its global manufacturing network which focused on production of electrified cars and stressed that Brexit was not a factor.

Katsushi Inoue, chief officer for European regional operations at Honda Motor Co Ltd and president of Honda Motor Europe, said at the time: “In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly. As a result, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling this announcement will be for our people.”

The decision led to a massive outcry from devastated Honda workers and lots of concern about the knock-on effect the closure would have for an estimated 12,000 people who work as part of the supply chain of local businesses which rely on the plant for trade.

In September 2018, Honda executive Ian Howells told BBC Radio 5 Live that production would continue at the Swindon plant, so the news of its impending closure a few months later came as a massive shock

Swindon politicians and central government figures scrambled to set up a task force to consult with the Japanese car company and persuade it to reconsider its decision. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Swindon-born Countdown host Nick Hewer supported the cause.

Swindon Borough Council said it received several practical offers of help from organisations and people from Wiltshire and further afield.

Thousands of people marched through Swindon town centre and joined a rally in Faringdon Park on March 30 to protest the closure of the plant. The crowd included union supporters bussed in from around the country and Honda workers, though some employees decided not to attend.