By Amit Roy
WHEN Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) once wanted to borrow money from Gordon Brown’s Labour government in 2008 to tide it over a cash-flow problem, the response of his business secretary, Peter Mandelson, was not helpful.
He took the view JLR was an Indian company which could get the money it needed from its parent company Tata Motors, part of the group headed by Ratan Tata.
JLR is now held up as a showpiece of British manufacturing, employing 33,000 people. Thousands more jobs in the indirect supply chain also depend on the automobile manufacturer.
The company is now reported to need between £1-2 billion to see it through the crisis caused by the slump in car sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
JLR said: “We are in regular discussion with government on a whole range of matters and the content of our discussions remains confidential,” adding the suggestion it needs up to £2bn “is inaccurate and speculative”.
A government spokesperson confirmed: “The government is in regular contact with the car manufacturing sector to assist them through this crisis.
“We recognise the challenges facing the industry as a result of coronavirus and firms can draw upon the unprecedented package of measures, including schemes to raise capital, flexibilities with tax bills, and financial support for employees.”
JLR, which has a big presence at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, is working to advance car technology, especially in electric cars. It is critical to the British economy that JLR should survive.
It might be Indian owned but the Land Rover, which the Queen drives, is as British and as well-loved as, well, chicken tikka masala.