Image: Ford Image: Ford

Ford has suggested it could leave the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit, warning the UK government that it will do "whatever is necessary" to protect its business.

In a statement, the carmaker said: "Such a situation would be catastrophic for the UK auto industry and Ford's manufacturing operations in the country.

"We will take whatever action is necessary to preserve the competitiveness of our European business."

It comes after following reports by The Times newspaper that Ford was already making plans to leave the UK. Despite having long warned against the dangers of a no deal Brexit, Ford did not comment in direct response to The Times' report.

The newspaper claimed that Ford told Theresa May that it was planning to move abroad if the UK could not reach a deal during a conference call with business leaders. The Times also said that the Prime Minister told business leaders that there would be financial support for businesses if the UK does leave the EU without a deal, though did not disclose details.

Last month, the Unite union revealed that Ford is planning to cut 1,000 jobs from its manufacturing facility in Bridgend by 2021. Ford has not confirmed the number of jobs but did admit it was consulting with the union over job cuts.

Ford is the latest car manufacturer to deliver a stark warning to the UK government over the possibility of a no deal Brexit. Last week, Nissan scrapped plans to build its X-Trail model at its Sunderland plant because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. And last month, Jaguar Land Rover said it would cut 4,500 jobs as a result of Brexit.