Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Battery Manufacturing Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 1st March 2021.

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Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 3:38 pm, 1st March 2021

I thank Greg Clark for securing this urgent question and agree wholeheartedly with him. Labour stands ready to do all we can to secure the future of Ellesmere Port. The plant has been a major employer in the north-west for decades and is highly efficient and productive. It would be a travesty if it did not have a long-term future. That is now in the Government’s hands.

The uncertainty facing Ellesmere Port and other car plants speaks to a deeper problem caused by the Government’s inaction on automotive. They have been asleep at the wheel. First, automotive has had no sectoral support during covid, despite the worst trading levels in 50 years, while it has received billions of euros in France and Germany. Secondly—[Inaudible.] The green transition for car makers is not underpinned by any meaningful investment or strategy. They need more than the platitudes of the 10-point plan. They need a world-leading gigafactory plan.

Thirdly, Ministers said that the Brexit deal would unleash Government to back British industry, but it has not. Instead, our EU competitors are unashamedly pumping support into their car makers, while ours are left hamstrung by new red tape. It is no wonder that international companies such as Stellantis are looking at their long-term investments and wanting more from our Government.

What further guarantees can the Secretary of State give to Stellantis and others that he will back the switch to electric with real support? What is he demanding from the Budget for automotive? Will he bring forward plans to create green jobs today by raising his ambition on gigafactories and other infrastructure? Finally, will he actually do whatever it takes to help British industry post Brexit, to ensure the bright future that our businesses and workers deserve?