Starmer blames lack of Brexit deal for hundreds of potential Welsh jobs being moved to the EU

Keir Starmer. Picture by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

The leader of the UK Labour Party has blamed the lack of a Brexit deal for hundreds of jobs being moved from Wales to France.

Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of “dithering” between “the deal we need and the compromise he knows his backbenchers won’t let him do” after it was confirmed that INEOS Automotive not be building its 4×4 the Grenadier in Bridgend.

Instead it will be built at the Hambach site in Moselle after the company, which is owned by billionaire Brexit-backer Jim Ratcliffe, announced it has bought a factory from Mercedes-Benz there.

The Labour leader said that it is already too late for some jobs and he asked:  “How many British jobs have to go overseas before he gets on with delivering the Brexit deal he promised?”

The UK Prime Minister accused the Labour leader of not being able to say whether he would vote for a Brexit trade deal.

He said: “Until he is able to come up with a position of his own… I find it difficult to take his criticism seriously.”

He also insisted that the UK will remain an attractive place to do business.

When the move was announced he said: “Today’s announcement from INEOS will deliver hundreds of new jobs in Bridgend and is a vote of confidence in UK expertise, making sure we keep our status as a pioneer in new vehicle technologies.”

 

‘Expected’ 

It had been expected that the company would create 200 jobs in Bridgend initially and 500 in the long term. Work to clear the ground for a factory at the site had already begun.

However, that move was suspended after the company said some new options had “opened up”.

According to INEOS Group Chairman Jim Ratcliffe the Hambach site presented the company “with a unique opportunity” that it “simply could not ignore.”

At the time of the suspension, Economy Minister Ken Skates said it would be “a real blow if Ineos reneged on its very public commitment”.

“I have told the CEO that abandoning Bridgend at this late stage, after so much effort and money has been invested in preparing the site, would be a terrible decision for Wales and the UK.

“We have impressed on the company in no uncertain terms the importance of honouring its commitment to Wales and to deliver on its promise to build a British icon here in Britain.”

The Welsh Government also said it had invested “significant time and money” and would look to recoup costs from the company if it pulled out.

The firm said yesterday: “We can confirm today that we have acquired the manufacturing facility at Hambach from Mercedes-Benz. Manufacturing at Hambach ensures we remain on track to meet our plans to deliver the Grenadier to customers in early 2022.

“Building the vehicle in Britain was always our intention and the plan was fully costed and deliverable. Of course, we understand there will be disappointment in the UK. But the business case for Hambach was overwhelming.”

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