Brexit deal must reduce uncertainty over Vauxhall's UK future, MP warns
The Government needs to strike a Brexit deal that will reduce uncertainty around the future of Vauxhall in the UK, the MP for the company's Luton plant said.
Gavin Shuker welcomed the deal by French car giant PSA Group to buy the European operations of General Motors, including Vauxhall in the UK, but said assurances needed to be made around the "very profitable, very efficient" plant, and recognised freedom of movement as "hugely helpful".
Speaking outside the Luton Vauxhall plant, the Labour MP told the Press Association: "The real question now is how do we reduce uncertainty? That means we need a Brexit deal that's going to allow us to continue to make Vauxhall the gem that it's been for the past 30 or 40 years in the UK.
"Here in Luton, this plant has got eight years of production left. It's a very profitable and very efficient plant. If you look at the merged PSA-Vauxhall-Opal, it's going to have 24 plants. The Vauxhall plant is going to come out on top in terms of efficiency and value for money."
The Luton South MP also called for more investment in the Luton plant before the remaining eight years of production are up. He suggested that the government be prepared to bail out Vauxhall in a Nissan-style deal, if Brexit negotiations do not go to plan.
He said: "A decision about new investment needs to be made probably five years out from now. Ellesmere Port is a different issue. A new Astra will be going at the back end of 2018. That's going to be before the terms of a Brexit deal. The government needs to signal its intent to make a single continuous market for automotive across Europe in its negotiations, and secondly, de-risk the deal in the same way they did over Nissan, by giving assurances that if there's a bad outcome in Brexit talks, they'll pick up the tab."
Echoing PSA group managing board chairman Carlos Tavares's assertion that plants will stay open, Mr Shuker said he does not think jobs will be lost in the short or medium term.
However, he did acknowledge an "ageing workforce" at the Luton plant and the helpful role that freedom of movement has helped to fill a local skills gap.
He said: "For many workers here, (the Vivaro) will be the last van they build as it's a more ageing workforce. So what we need is good skills locally, that means more people coming into these jobs.
"And frankly, freedom of movement has been hugely helpful in that regard, in the kind of workforce we need to make this one of the most efficient van plants in Europe."