The British Prime Minister tonight held out fresh hopes that a rescue deal can be agreed to save thousands of jobs being lost at car giant MG Rover.
Tony Blair travelled to Birmingham after attending the Pope’s funeral in Rome to meet union leaders and workers from the huge factory at Longbridge to pledge his support to efforts to save jobs.
Accompanied by Chancellor Gordon Brown, he revealed that the two men had been in touch with the Chinese Government in a bid to resurrect a proposed partnership deal with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).
A planned joint venture between the two firms dramatically collapsed last night, plunging MG Rover into administration and threatening 6,000 job losses across the West Midlands.
Mr Blair said today he thought “it’s possible still” that a deal could be struck between MG Rover and Shanghai Automotive.
Downing Street said he has written a letter to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offering the Government’s “continued good will” towards SAIC and “willingness to provide whatever assistance we can as SAIC considers what to do next”, Downing Street said.
Mr Blair paid tribute to workers at the Longbridge plant and said it was time to “just roll our sleeves up” and get on with keeping as much production and as many jobs going at the factory.
Speaking to journalists at the Transport and General Workers Union building in Birmingham, Mr Blair said: “This is a very, very difficult time, a time of great anxiety for the people who work at Longbridge, and for their families.
“We will continue to do absolutely everything we can to keep car production and as many jobs as possible.