Ford will defy doom-mongers and continue to trade in Britain, despite concerns about the impact of Brexit on the economy.
The US firm has slowly been reducing its manufacturing capacity in Europe and stopped making vehicles in the UK in 2013 after more than 100 years.
Ford employees around 13,000 people in the UK, with engine production lines in Dagenham and Bridgend.
Mark Fields, the company’s chief executive, said: “We need to make sure that all of our facilities around the world are globally competitive.
Ford's CEO has shown support for British industry in the wake of Brexit
We are very proud to be in the UK and we are going to be in the UK for quite some time
“We are very proud to be in the UK and we are going to be in the UK for quite some time but it’s going to be really important, particularly because Article 50 is now triggered, that from our standpoint there needs to be free trade between the UK and the Continent.”
Challenged on whether Ford will continue in the UK, Mr Fields added: “I can’t guarantee anything, nobody can guarantee anything over many, many years.”
This will come as a boost to Brexiteers after Brussels hinted at excluding Britain from updates on EU trade talks amid fears the UK could take advantage of sensitive information in its own trade negotiations.
After a briefing last month, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned there needed to be a “discussion about the treatment of sensitive information in the context of certain trade negotiations, to which the UK would continue to have access to while it remained a full member of the Union”.
All member states, including Britain, participate in trade policy committee meetings, which take place weekly in Brussels, to discuss the bloc’s trade dealings.
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Many EU leaders are worried that allowing the UK to continue to receive the routine updates until it leaves the bloc in 2019 will strengthen Britain’s bargaining position in post-Brexit trade talks.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a senior European Commission chief said: “The question is to what extent Britain should be involved or informed or have access to ongoing negotiations when they are leaving because then they will proceed to conclude their own deals.
“All our negotiations would clearly be for a market of 28, but we’re going to be a market of 27 down the line.
In pictures: Theresa May meets with EU's Tusk Thu, April 6, 2017
The two leaders held talks on Brexit negotiations
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European Council President Donald Tusk gestures to members of the media as he leaves 10 Downing street after talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in central London
“It’s more that we should be aware of what’s going to come down the road in terms of strategy… We shouldn’t put ourselves at a disadvantage.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has made clear that the UK remains a member of the EU with all the rights and obligations that entails and we will continue to play our full role.
“We will, of course, be discussing our relationship with other countries as we always have.”