Vauxhall set to close UK factory with loss of 1,000 jobs if no-deal Brexit goes ahead, chief executive suggests

‘We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port,’ boss says of plant in Cheshire

Peter Stubley
Monday 29 July 2019 14:25
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What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

Vauxhall’s French owners have threatened to move production out of its factory in Ellesmere Port if a no-deal Brexit makes it unprofitable.

PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares said the firm had identified an “alternative” plant in Europe to make future Astra cars “if the conditions are bad”.

His warning was issued as Boris Johnson set up a Brexit cabinet committee to prepare for crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

“We need visibility on what is going to happen in October,” Mr Tavares told the Financial Times. “For us it’s quite simple – we need visibility on customs, that’s all.”

PSA has previously expressed doubts about the future of its two British plants due to uncertainty about the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from Europe.

Last month PSA said its next generation of the Astra would be built from 2021 at Russelsheim in Germany and Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, but warned this was “conditional” on a satisfactory Brexit deal.

The car manufacturer has now gone further by suggesting it could pull out of Ellesmere Port, which could spell the end of the plant.

“Frankly I would prefer to put it 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,” said Mr Tavares. “We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port.”

The threat to move production follows Friday’s warning from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that a no-deal Brexit was an “existential threat” to the industry.

Vauxhall, which was owned by US carmaker General Motors before being bought by PSA in 2017, launched an ad campaign for the Astra last year that billed its bestselling model as “true Brit”, on the basis that versions of the car have been built at Ellesmere Port for over 40 years.

The Cheshire plant still employs 1,000-plus workers despite more than 650 job cuts since last year.

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