Gordon Brown has issued his strongest warning yet that the Government will oppose any foreign buyer who attempts to “asset strip” Cadbury and move jobs out of Birmingham.

The Prime Minister said potential new owners should be ready for “huge opposition” if it threatened to end production in the city.

He made it clear the Government would not oppose a takeover bid in principle, saying what mattered was how the company was run, rather than who owned it.

Speaking on Radio WM’s Lunch With Ed Doolan show, he highlighted comments made by Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, who promised last month to speak out in defence of Cadbury workers if their jobs were threatened.

The Prime Minister said: “I think it is very important that we don’t have a hostile bid for Cadbury which is an asset-stripping bid, and Peter Mandelson has spoken out very strongly about that.

“Cadbury is a great brand name, it has great products, it has a great workforce, and we want to keep the workforce in business.

“Who owns the company is less important than how the company is run, and we have a great product here in Britain and a great workforce, and we want to do everything we can to help.”

He added: “We don’t want to lose it from the Midlands, the production and the workforce. What Peter Mandelson was warning of was, any company that thinks they can come in and just asset strip this great company, we are telling them that’s not the way to proceed, and we are not going to allow that to happen without huge opposition.”