Labour calls for long-term plan to secure Jaguar Land Rover's future

Ministers must urgently lay out a long term plan to help Jaguar Land Rover succeed into the future as it transition to an all-electric fleet, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Meanwhile uncertainty hangs over the future of its Castle Bromwich plant, after bosses said they were "exploring opportunities to repurpose" it after 2024.

Speaking at the launch of Liam Byrne's campaign for West Midlands Mayor, Labour leader Sir Keir said the region's manufacturing industry needed support from a government that "wants manufacturing to succeed".

The former director of public prosecutions said manufacturing was "in his blood" as his father had been a toolmaker.

He said: "We have to look at the economy in the long term.

"JLR needs a long term plan for the future, a long term plan to support its needs, whether that's around science, whether it's research and development – and we need a Government that understands and wants manufacturing to succeed.

"What I see at JLR and other places is that something amazing has happened in the last 10 years or so, which is really smart ways of doing manufacturing.

"We need to understand that and protect it, and to make sure it has got a sustainable long term future."

JLR has said that none of the shop floor jobs at sites including its Wolverhampton plant will be axed during the restructure.

Also speaking at the launch, Birmingham MP Mr Byrne said the West Midlands can become "the global capital of green manufacturing", with JLR at the forefront of a surge in the production of electric vehicles.

He said it was vital that Ministers signed off on the region's bid for a gigafactory, which has been lined up for land at Coventry Airport after a deal was agreed between airport bosses, the West Midlands Combined Authority and Coventry Council.

The Government has put forward £500 million for gigafactory sites, but it will only be available once private investment has been secured.

Mr Byrne said: "We could be one of the world's biggest producers of electric vehicles, and JLR could be at the epicentre of that.

"That is why we have got to take the decision on building the gigafactory in Coventry. France and Germany are putting 1.75billion euros into battery technologies.

"There are now 16 gigafactories up and running or in productoion in Europe.

"The key thing is, that whoever has the battery factories will get the car industry. Coventry Council has now put forward the site together with the combined authority and other partners.

"We now need the Government to unlock £500 million that was promised in the Budget last year to get that gigafactory built.

"That is the way we keep costs lowest for companies like JLR and give them the certainty for the long term in order to keep up their investment in the future.

"JLR will do their share, we need the Government to step up to the plate too."

Setting out his ambitions for a green economy, Mr Byrne said: "We want to create here in the region that led the carbon revolution, a new leader of the zero carbon revolution.

"The first city region in Britain to go net zero carbon. The region that makes the things the world needs to cut carbon."

Mr Byrne, who is bidding to beat Conservative Andy Street in the mayoral election in May, said it was his "defining mission" to improve the life chances of young people in the region.

He said youngsters in the region could lose up to £40,000 each in lifetime earnings due to "failures" that have plagued lockdown learning.

‘When we shortchange children, we short-change our future. That is why the defining mission of my mayoralty will become the place that gives young people the best life chances in Britain."

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