Vauxhall boss slams Brexit bid: we need to stay in the EU

Vauxhall’s new managing director Rory Harvey has joined the debate on the EU referendum, telling journalists that the firm ‘absolutely’ has a position on Brexit – and that position is that the UK should remain in the European Union.

Speaking on the eve of the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Harvey said: “We think it’s the right thing to do in terms of movement of goods and supply of services and people, and we think it’s the right thing in terms of the automotive industry and us as an organisation.

“We have a position and that position is that we think that now, at the moment, we should stay in the EU.”

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Harvey’s predecessor, Tim Tozer, left the company suddenly in September following what’s believed to have been a spat between Vauxhall and GM’s European arm, Opel.

In the weeks prior to his departure, Tozer suggested that Britain leaving the EU would not stop Vauxhall from doing business in the UK.

He told the BBC’s Radio 4 today programme: “I don’t think in that event [of Britain leaving the EU] there would not be a trade agreement with what was left of the EU. We’re a very, very big market for European products, goods and services, and it would be unthinkable to us as a corporation that no such trade agreement would ultimately be negotiated if this country chose to leave.”

His successor is more reserved, however. Harvey said it would be “interesting to see what happens with the referendum,” yet refused to speculate about whether the company would continue to build cars within the UK if it were to leave the EU.

Vauxhall is GM’s fourth biggest market around the world, with 35,000 people employed by the firm in the UK. The brand’s Ellesmere Port plant in the North West produces more than 180,000 Astras a year – 52,000 of which are sold in the UK.

This figure is set to increase with the new model, which tonight picked up the award of the 2016 European Car of the Year.

Recently, Toyota hinted that it would continue production at its Burnaston plant – whichever way the EU referendum goes.

Telling the Financial Times how Toyota had buried a time capsule under the Derbyshire factory, the multinational company’s chief executive Akio Toyoda said: “From now on, like Japan, we may face some pretty tough times in the UK market.

“But we want to deepen our roots to deliver ever better cars, so when that capsule is opened after 100 years, all can see we’ve built a truly British company.”