The Government has committed to dialogue with Vauxhall’s US owners General Motors following pressure from Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders (Lab).
Mr Madders intervened in the Commons on behalf of the 1,700 workers at the North Road plant following an announcement from Nissan that it is to build two new car ranges at the country’s largest car making plant in Sunderland saving thousands of jobs.
The decision followed ‘support and assurances’ from the Government about the UK’s future outside the EU.
Earlier Chuck Stevens, chief financial officer of Vauxhall’s US owners, had warned the Detroit based car maker was ‘prepared to take whatever action is necessary’ to get its loss-making European business back on track.
Mr Madders pressed the Government to hold similar discussions with GM to those involving Nissan.
During a statement in Parliament by Business Secretary Greg Clark MP Mr Madders intervened and said: “I certainly welcome the news and I am sure that the thousands of people who work at the Vauxhall car plant in my constituency would be equally delighted if a similar announcement could be made in due course.”
He continued: ““When the Secretary of State addressed the Chamber, he referred to different strategies for different industries but does he also accept that, within the UK automotive sector, there are different challenges from plant to plant and that a more specific approach may be needed from time to time?
“Will he agree to engage in an intimate dialogue with General Motors as he has with Nissan?”
Mr Clark responded: “I am not sure I would describe the dialogue as intimate but it was constructive at any rate. Of course I make that commitment to the hon. gentleman.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Madders commented: “I was very pleased to see a large employer like Nissan commit its future to the UK during the current economic uncertainty.
“I am keen to ensure that General Motors receives the same level of attention and gets whatever assurances it needs as soon as possible so that hopefully we can see similar announcements being made about the future of the Vauxhall plant.
“I have been clear from day one that while I respect the decision taken by the British people to leave the EU, it is vitally important that we secure the best possible deal for the UK.
“The decision by Nissan is a positive step and I am pleased that the Secretary of State has now committed to holding similar talks with General Motors.
“I will do all that I can to work with government and industry to ensure that local jobs are safeguarded.”
Although the decision by Nissan has been welcomed, the Government has come under pressure to reveal whether a deal was done to secure the investment.
This has prompted questions over whether the same approach will be taken with other key manufacturers, including at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port.
The Ellesmere Port plant came perilously close to closing in 2012 until Vince Cable, then UK business secretary, travelled to Detroit to agree a deal and reassure GM about the government’s commitment to the industry.
A report by consultancy firm LMC Automotive warned in July that GM was the car maker most likely to shift operations from Britain to mainland Europe because of Brexit.
At GM Mr Stevens described the situation in the UK as a ‘speed bump on our path to where we want to take the business’.
Vauxhalls suggest that recent speculation that jobs are at risk and GM could shut plants and cut capacity across Europe due to the Brexit vote has no foundation with Mr Stevens also reportedly saying ‘very early days, I would suggest everything is on the table as we see how this plays out’.
On Brexit, Vauxhalls comment: “There is too much uncertainty on the future relationship with the EU to comment on how any changes will impact our business. “What is important for our business is continued access to the single market, with no tariffs and non-tariff barriers, remaining as part of the Customs Union which is very important to our operations, no divergence of regulatory standards for vehicles and the free movement of talent and skills.”