The Queen arrives to open a JLR plant in Wolverhampton in 2014.


by Amit Roy NOT so long ago, the Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was held up as the showpiece of British automotive manufacturing. But in the past few days, there have been credible reports that JLR might be sold or merge with the French group, PSA, owners of the Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall. “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on media speculation, but we can confirm there is no truth to these rumours,” a JLR spokesman told reporters. But Alain Le Gouguec, a spokesman for the Paris-based manufacturer, commented: “In principle, we are open to opportunities that could create long-term value for the PSA Group and its shareholders.” It is believed a “post-sale integration document”, which outlines the benefits of the two companies joining forces, is already in circulation and the firms are exploring the detail of cost savings after a tie-up. One paper interviewed a former Land Rover chief engineer, Dr Charles Tennant, who said: “This comes as no surprise at all and we should not take any notice of either Tata Motors or Jaguar Land Rover denials at all. “They are obliged to deny it until the ink is dry on the contract.” He added: “Last year I advised Lord [Kumar] Bhattacharyya – who until his sad passing was advising Ratan Tata on Jaguar Land Rover strategy – that JLR was in a death spiral of its own making, and Tata would need to fund massive investment now or sell up. “Clearly, Tata have looked at what the £2.5 billion cost savings plan will deliver in the context of future sales and profit forecasts, and perhaps they can see a cliff edge ahead.” It was Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, who advised Tata to buy JLR. Kumar, a great supporter of the company, is missed more than ever. Is Brexit to blame for JLR’s troubles? Problems with the market for diesel vehicles and declining sales in China are given as the reasons, but in the past JLR management had warned about the dangers from Britain leaving the EU. The Brextremists insist it is also not to blame for the fact that the aerospace firm, Bombardier, which employs about 3,600 people, is putting its Northern Ireland operation up for sale as part of a reorganisation of the Canada-owned business. Meanwhile, Nissan plans to end the production of two of its Infiniti cars at Sunderland. The move follows Nissan’s decision to build its new X-Trail model in Japan, instead of Sunderland (which voted 61.3 per cent to leave in the referendum). Also Honda will close its Swindon plant in 2021, with the loss of 3,500 jobs. Again, Brextremists say Brexit is not to blame. But anyone who is open minded will see it has created an atmosphere in which one company after another is starting to fail. One day Britain may well occupy the sunlit slopes of a Brexit paradise, but we will have to be prepared to go through self-induced hell and mass unemployment to get there. This is why British Asians must turn out to vote in the European parliament elections next Thursday (23).