Future of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory in grave danger


Boris Johnson is playing “no-deal roulette” with the future of the Ellesmere Port car plant, unions have warned.

Amid reports that PSA, the factory’s French owner, would close it in the event of an unsatisfactory Brexit, leaders of the Unite union said that the prime minister was in danger of undoing talks to bring the next generation of the Vauxhall Astra and other cars to the site in Cheshire.

The plant, which opened in 1962, employed 12,000 workers in the heyday of the bestselling Vauxhall Viva. In 2011 it still employed 3,500 people. However, since PSA, the company behind Peugeot and Citroën, bought the European assets of General Motors — namely Vauxhall and Opel — two years ago, the workforce has dwindled to a little over 1,000. Last year the factory made 77,481 Astras. It has capacity to build 200,000.

Ellesmere Port makes only the Astra and is the company’s sole British carmaking plant. PSA has said already that the next generation of the Astra will be built in Germany from 2021, with Ellesmere Port as a secondary plant. Carlos Tavares, 60, PSA’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that if Ellesmere Port was not profitable after Brexit, he would switch production elsewhere.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, said that there had been positive talks with PSA, but added: “All that hard work is hanging by a thread as Boris Johnson and his government of hard Brexiteers play no-deal roulette with the livelihoods of thousands of Vauxhall workers and their colleagues in the supply chain.”

A spokesman for Vauxhall UK said that work for Ellesmere Port would be conditional on the final terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union . . . PSA has put into place a comprehensive ‘no-deal’ contingency plan.”