UK business secretary Greg Clark has said meetings with PSA executives about the future of the UK’s Vauxhall plants ended with only thin assurances about the company’s commitment to the sites.

Peugeot owner PSA, which is in talks with General Motors about buying its loss-making European Opel and Vauxhall brands, told Mr Clark that it valued the Vauxhall brand in the UK and that the strength of the marque was “underpinned” by its staff. The French car maker told him it would “build on” these strengths.

But the business secretary’s brief statement makes no mention of any further assurances to offer to the 3,400 people employed at the plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton.

It is expected that Carlos Tavares, PSA chief executive, will slash costs at the business of the deal happens.

Politicians from Germany are also seeking to safeguard jobs in their county, where Opel has three plants and its headquarters.

After two days of trying to secure a meeting with PSA and the French government, which owns a stake in the car maker, Mr Clark travelled on Thursday evening to Paris for two meetings.

Late on Thursday evening Greg Clark said:

I had constructive meetings in Paris with both my French counterpart, the Industry Minister and executives of PSA Group, in which they explained the rationale behind this potential alliance.

They stressed that they valued highly the enduring strength of the Vauxhall brand, underpinned by its committed workforce. While discussions are still on-going, they made clear to me that in any deal these were strengths they would wish to build on.

We agreed to remain in close contact during the period ahead.

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