Business secretary attends urgent meeting in Paris regarding British GM jobs

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Business secretary Greg Clark attended urgent talks in Paris last night, amid concerns that 3,500 British manufacturing jobs could be threatened by PSA group's takeover of Vauxhall and Opel.

Clark joined his French equivalent and PSA Peugeot Citroen management to discuss the matter, which has been described as the biggest industrial crisis since the UK voted to leave the EU last June.

Before leaving for France, Clark held a series of meetings with industry executives and trade unions to discuss Tuesday's shock announcement that PSA had begun negotiations to acquire General Motors' loss-making Opel carmaker and its British arm, Vauxhall.

Significant concern was raised over the future of Vauxhall's Astra plant at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, and its Vivaro van plant in Luton.

Given the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, PSA could move manufacturing out of Britain, with Astra production transferring to Opel's plant at Gliwice in Poland. However, the group is said to be uninterested in Vauxhall's commercial vehicle business.

The Times reported that while Vauxhall's UK workers are "understandably concerned" for a future under PSA Group, comments from Clark had seemed positive.

"There is some way to go in discussions between GM and PSA but I was reassured by GM's intention, communicated to me, to build on the success of these operations rather than rationalise them," Clark said.

Meanwhile, a statement from GM read: "Our objective in exploring opportunities with PSA Group is to build on the success of Opel Vauxhall and to put the business and the operations in the strongest possible position for the future."