CONSERVATIVE stalwart-turned Brexit Party MEP hopeful Ann Widdecombe has told Honda workers facing certainty of losing their jobs: “Factories close all the time.”

Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser ahead of Thursday’s European Parliament elections, the party’s south west candidate said she wanted Britain to “control her own laws, her own borders, her own trade deals”.

Quizzed on Honda, which last week confirmed it would be pulling out of Swindon by 2021, Miss Widdecombe echoed claims from managers at the Japan car giant - that the decision to shut the South Marston factory was based on changes in the global car market rather than uncertainty thrown up by Brexit.

“I don’t put it down to Brexit at all,” she said.

Asked what she would tell Swindon Honda workers, 3,500 of whom are expected to lose their jobs, she said: “Listen to your management. Factories close all the time. Or they move.”

Reacting, Green Party candidate Molly Scott-Cato said:“These insensitive comments, coming from someone whose Brexit Party claims to be a cheerleader for ordinary working people, shows that in reality Ann Widdecombe has no understanding of the difficulties facing working people or concern for their welfare.

“Unlike Miss Widdecombe, I have spent several years actually speaking to Honda’s management in Swindon. They shared with me their deep concerns about Brexit and in particular worries about what would happen to just-in-time supply chains if we left the customs union. The uncertainty over Brexit was clearly a push factor in determining their future business strategy.

“The best way to put an end to business uncertainty and ensure a prosperous economy that safeguards jobs is to stop Brexit.”

Former Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Miss Widdecombe, who lives in Devon, came out of political retirement earlier this month to announce her Brexit Party candidacy. She was first elected to parliament in 1987 as the Conservative MP for Maidstone, stepping down at the 2010 general election.

The 71-year-old said she had not wanted to make the switch to the new party, having spent 55 years as a Tory - 23 of them as an MP. “It was very, very difficult, but I saw it as a clear duty,” she said.

The candidate hit out at the Conservative Party: “It’s in a most incredible mess. It’s very, very badly led. Really, seriously badly led and I don’t see it recovering.

"I think if nothing changes - leadership or approach - it will be annihilated at the next general election.”

Backing what she described as a “clean Brexit”, with the UK leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation rules, Miss Widdecombe said voting for the Brexit Party was the only way to ensure “control of our own laws, border and trade”.

The European Parliament elections are tomorrow.