THIS was the scene at Oxford's Mini plant yesterday on the first day of a planned maintenance shutdown.

The factory's 4,500 workers have been given four weeks off as upgrade works take place to make the plant ready for the new electric Mini, set to launch later this year.

Normally held in August, the shutdown was moved to coincide with the UK's planned Brexit date due to uncertainty surrounding customs arrangements following the country's EU withdrawal.

MPs' rejection of the Prime Minister's proposed deal in the House of Commons has led to the Brexit date being extended but this came too late for the site's owners, BMW, to change course.

City councillor Tom Hayes said he 'felt sorry' for workers.

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He tweeted: "Feel very sorry for the workers of Cowley MINI plant. Oxford’s biggest employer has tried to be prudent in the face of government chaos by bringing forward and extending its shutdown.

"The plant can’t reverse the shutdown and may still get hit by a No Deal that it tried to avoid."

When the shut-down was announced in September, many plant workers and their families took to social media to complain about the inconvenience the changes would cause.

The shutdown normally coincides with the summer holidays.

Spokesman Steve Wrelton previously said: "The maintenance period remains in place throughout April.

"This is what our company and our workforce have planned for over many months and it is fixed into our business planning."