Engine of growth

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The Independent Online

The last Vauxhall came off the assembly line at the company's Luton plant yesterday. It marks the end of almost a century of production and follows the recent closure of the Dagenham factory. Both sites were old and both were closed as a result of rationalisation by their global parents, General Motors and Ford respectively.

It is a sad moment, not least for the 1,900 workers whose jobs have been lost. Luton has relied on Vauxhall for many years. The readjustment will be painful. But, despite the closure of Dagenham and Luton, the British motor industry is evolving. General Motors is still making the 4x4 Frontera in Luton and maintaining a van plant there, and it will make the new Vectra and engines at Ellesmere Port – just as Ford is stepping up production of Jaguars at Halewood and Land Rovers at Solihull. The BMW-owned Mini operation in Cowley, Oxford, is thriving, and the Nissan, Toyota and Honda plants are surviving, despite the strong pound. Even MG Rover is back in the black.

However, everyone involved knows that their futures would be much more secure if Britain were in the euro. We should not lose sight of that abiding fact.