Frank Field calls on Government to support Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant after Brexit threat

Wirral Globe - 30 Jul 2019

BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field is calling on the Government to provide "every bit of support necessary" to Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant after bosses warned it would pull production of cars if Brexit makes it unprofitable.

On Monday, July 29 PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares said he would build future Vauxhall Astras and Opel Astras in southern Europe in the event that Britain could not achieve a "satisfactory" exit from the EU.

This would threaten the closure of Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant which currently employs more than 1,000 people.

Now Mr Field has penned a letter to chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid pleading with him to provide support to the Ellesmere Port plant and it's workers.
In the letter, seen exclusively by the Globe, Mr Field said: "You will have seen that PSA is floating the possibility of withdrawing all future production from its Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, and switching it to mainland Europe, if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (EU) without an agreement.

"This withdrawal of production would probably lead to the closure of the plant and, with it, the loss of 1,000 jobs. Many of my constituents currently work at the plant.

"Around four-fifths of the cars produced by the plant are exported to Europe and three-quarters of its components are imported.

"Therefore, the plant desperately requires certainty around our future customs arrangements. These arrangements are unlikely to become clear until the end of October, at the earliest.

"This lack of clarity will cause much, much anxiety to my constituents who work at the plant.

"Given the commitment you have already provided, to free up funds in preparation for a ‘No Deal’ departure from the EU, would the Government be willing please to ensure that not a single job is lost in the car making industry, by setting aside as large a sum as is required to protect car makers from any potential consequences of No Deal?

"My preference is, and has always been, for an agreement to be reached very quickly which would protect both the supply chains and export markets of our car makers once we have left the EU.

"But given the likelihood of No Deal, I very much hope you will be in a position to reassure my constituents that car makers will not lose out under any scenario.

"I am sending a copy of this letter to Mike Hawes at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, in the hope that the three of us could meet to discuss this matter further."

PSA announced last month that it planned to build the next generation of the Astra at the factory, but warned that this was conditional on the final terms of the UK's withdrawal from the bloc.

On Monday, Mr Tavares told the Financial Times: "Frankly, I would prefer to put it (the Astra car) in Ellesmere Port but if the conditions are bad and I cannot make it profitable then I have to protect the rest of the company and I will not do it."

He added: "We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port."

Lauren Jones, Wirral Globe