Jaguar and Land Rover could be the next UK car brands to move production overseas as foreign manufacturers shift their operations on a "corporate whim", an industry expert claimed yesterday.
Michael Wynn-Williams, an analyst for automotive research specialists Trend Tracker, said other firms could follow the example of Peugeot, which is pulling out of the Ryton factory near Coventry and shifting production to Slovakia.
Mr Wynn-Williams said Jaguar and Land Rover, owned by Ford, could be among the firms looking to move production overseas.
"The production side is easy to move from one country to another," he said. "Multi-nationals can treat the country like a political football, shifting functions in and out on a corporate whim.
"The Jaguar S-Type is based on the Lincoln LS and by far the most cost effective thing to do would have been to make both in the same factory over in America.
"Ford is too committed to the UK to do this right now, but I think in the long term it would be tempting to do some production in the US just as BMW do now with the X5, which is an American car.
"What may happen is the production of Jaguar and Land Rover moves abroad, but the technical side which has deep roots in Birmingham, will stay."
A spokesman for Jaguar and Land Rover said: "We have confirmed on many occasions there are no plans to transfer production out of the UK."
Meanwhile, Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham called for British workers to be given the same protection from redundancy as those in other parts of Europe, as he led a Commons debate on Midland manufacturing.
Mr Cunningham said: "We are only doing what we can to assist our labour force, because it certainly is going to have a devastating effect not only on the workforce but on their families."
His comments came as the union boycott of Peugeot cars was criticised and Trade Minister Margaret Hodge highlighted the importance of dealerships, which employ 5,000 people.
It followed comments by Brian Donohoe, Labour MP for Ayrshire Central, who complained that a dealership in his constituency could be hit.
The Transport and General Workers' Union and Amicus have placed adverts in national, regional and trade newspapers, and bought poster space on hoardings across the country, urging people not to buy from Peugeot.
Mr Donohoe said "it beggars belief" that unions were calling for a boycott which would cost more British jobs.
He was backed by Mrs Hodge, who said: "What we have to remember is that dealerships employ around 5,000 people."