I used to have a Vauxhall Viva. I loved it. I loved its real wood dashboard, its leather seats and the fact that it was just right for my height. Next year, in defiance of years of uncertainty about its future, the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port assembly plant will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary.
In March, Central Bylines asked, ‘Does Ellesmere Port count for the Tory cabinet?’ Maybe we are getting an inkling of the answer.
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Stellantis investment at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port
Last week, Vauxhall’s owner, Stellantis (a Dutch-based mega-manufacturer formed from the merger of Fiat-Chrysler and Peugeot) announced £100 million of investment into the plant. This investment will fund a new body shop and an upgrade to the general assembly line. It will also be used to develop on-site battery pack assembly. Electric vehicles (from Vauxhall, Citroën, Peugeot and Opel) will be produced at the plant.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said ‘Performance is always the trigger for sustainability and this £100 million investment demonstrates our commitment to the UK and to Ellesmere Port.‘.
This sounds delightful but it does rather skirt around the edges of story. There are strong suggestions that the investment would never have happened had the government not committed to a parallel state aid contribution of £30 million. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of globalisation and protectionism. Have we finally discovered what ‘Global Britain’ means post-Brexit?
Throwing tax payers’ money at multi-national corporations to keep them here does not sound exactly like buccaneering on the seas of free trade. Nonetheless, it is undeniably good news for the workers at the Ellesmere Port plant.