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Brexit vote raises uncertainty for Ford

Ford Motor Co.'s head of global markets said the Jan. 15 defeat of the proposed Brexit deal between the U.K. and the European Union creates uncertainty for the automaker in Europe.

Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president and president of global markets, told several reporters after the Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit on Jan. 15 that the company has done a lot of contingency planning and is prepared for a hard Brexit to take place, without a deal between the U.K. and the EU. However, the automaker still expects a deal to be reached.

Ford recently announced that it plans to eliminate thousands of hourly and salaried jobs across Europe as part of its restructuring, and a hard Brexit could bring about more severe cuts. The company has 50,000 workers across Europe, but it did not specify exactly how many cuts there could potentially be.

"Today's [Brexit] vote certainly adds more uncertainty, but in another way, you could say uncertainty could work out the other way," Farley said. "There could be another referendum vote."

But the executive added that Ford has "to absolutely be ready" for either outcome as it restructures its European operations.

Farley said 30% of the company's European sales are in the U.K., where it also builds all of its diesel engines that are shipped to the EU and Turkey.

With the U.K. set to leave the EU on March 29, British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal laying out the terms of the withdrawal was overwhelmingly voted down by lawmakers. May said there would be a new proposal offered by Jan. 21.

"We are running out of time," Farley said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I don't think anyone does."