Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says the government is fully committed to ensuring jobs stay at Stellantis’s Ellesmere Port plant.
A decision on the future of the factory where the Vauxhall Astra is currently made was due last Thursday (Feb 25) after the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars helped cast doubt on its future.
Last week we reported that Stellantis was trying to get government support to build electric cars at the Cheshire plant.
Stellantis chief executive Carlos Tavares was earlier reported as saying that the plant’s future hinged on where the company opted to make the next generation of EVs and that it relied on support by the UK government.
Tavares told a press conference that governments can ‘create situations which destroy the business model’.
He added: ‘If we are told that in 2030 internal combustion engines cannot be sold in the UK – which we respect as a decision from the country – then we are not going to invest in internal combustion engines any more because that makes no sense.’
The talks last week failed to reach a conclusion and there have been fears that Stellantis may yet close the factory, which employs 1,000 people.
However, the BBC has reported that Kwarteng told the Commons yesterday (Mar 1) he was ‘hopeful we can reach a satisfactory conclusion’ about the plant.
He and government officials have been in discussions with Stellantis’s management for a number of weeks, with council representatives involved as well.
Kwarteng also said yesterday – in response to an urgent question from his forerunner Greg Clark – that he had met Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union.
The business secretary added the government was ‘100 per cent committed to making sure those jobs stay’, and said Stellantis needed to make a ‘successful renewed commitment’ to the plant as it had done with its Luton site.
But Clark told him: ‘A laissez-faire approach won’t do it, neither will just general encouragement’, calling for sleeves to be rolled up and ‘concrete action…taken now between government and industry, just as was the case with vaccines’.
Meanwhile, shadow business minister Lucy Powell said it would be a ‘tragedy’ if Ellesmere Port shut, and that its future was in the hands of the government.
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