Ford's strategic planning is based on an assumption that Britain will join the single European currency within the next few years, the company's European chairman said yesterday.

Ford of Europe chairman Nick Scheele warned that British manufacturers, particularly car makers, were suffering because of the relative strength of sterling against the euro.

It would be of concern to the auto giant - which employs 50,000 people in Britain - if its assumption that Britain would join the euro turned out to be ill-founded.

Manufacturing industry in general should be emphasising that the question of euro membership was increasingly a critical issue, Mr Scheele said.