Labour demands clarity after Boris Johnson’s Bridgend jobs blunder

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Welsh Labour has called for clarity after Boris Johnson declared in parliament that Bridgend would be one of the “great centres” of battery manufacturing despite no indication of such a project at the South Wales location.

Facing questions from MPs during Prime Minister’s Question this afternoon, Johnson told the Commons: “Bridgend – there’s going to be the one of the great centres of battery manufacturing in this country, if not the world.”

Welsh Labour has pointed out that there is no indication that a battery manufacturing project has been earmarked for Bridgend, and described the remark by the Prime Minister as an “insensitive slip up”.

Commenting following the session in parliament this afternoon, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Nia Griffiths said: “People in Bridgend deserve clarity on these jobs that the Prime Minister has declared are coming to the area.

“There is no evidence to suggest substantial investment or support for battery manufacturing by the UK Tory government in Bridgend.

“It is deeply unfair for the Prime Minister to be so loose with his words when Bridgend has faced so many set backs on his watch. The community is still reeling from the closure of Ford and the loss of the Ineos project to France. It’s simply not good enough.”

The comment by Johnson comes after news late last year that Ineos, run by the Brexit-supporting billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, would be U-turning on its previous commitment to build its new off-road ‘British’ vehicle in France.

It also followed news that startup Britishvolt, seeking to build Britain’s first large electric car battery plant, would be reneging on its intention to set up at the nearby Bro Tathan site in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Welsh government but said in December that it would not invest in in Wales. The 3,000-job factory will be built in Blyth, Northumberland, instead.

The announcements, which will see the area in South Wales miss out on thousands of potential jobs, dealt a bitter blow following hopes that the projects might provide an uplift after the closure of the Ford engine plant in Bridgend last year.

The site owned by the US carmaker had been in operation in Bridgend for over four decades. At the time the company notified its workers that the site would be closing, the plant employed 1,644 workers.

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