Plans to cut 400 jobs at Vauxhall are “particularly disappointing”, a Business Minister has said, as she told MPs she had spoken to a union chief and the UK head of the car giant.

Claire Perry promised that the Government was “standing by to do all it can to support those affected” by the proposals to axe jobs at the firm’s Ellesmere Port factory by the end of the year.

She told the Commons that she had spoken to the general secretary of the Unite union and the chief executive of Vauxhall UK, as well as local government leaders.

Signs at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere PortSigns at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ms Perry told the Commons: “This is, as we said last week, a very concerning time for families, particularly in the run up to Christmas, and I do want to assure (Mr Madders and MPs) that once again the Government is standing by to do all it can to support those affected.”

She said the “consensus view” was that the job losses were due to a “downturn in the sales cycle, particularly for the Astra model that is being produced, and questions that are being worked out by the company around the competitiveness of the plant in its overall context growing forward.”

Her statement comes after Unite called for assistance from the Government.

Unite General secretary Len McCluskey (Gareth Fuller/PA)Unite General secretary Len McCluskey (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The union said it was seeking meetings with the Government and Vauxhall’s parent company PSA to discuss future investment and ensure there were no compulsory redundancies.

General secretary Len McCluskey said: “We are calling for meetings with the highest levels of the parent company PSA to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies and that our plant continues to attract much needed investment. That includes removing the uncertainty about a new model and clarity on Ellesmere Port’s future.

“But we also appeal to the Government for its assistance. This industry urgently needs economic and trading certainty so that it can build for a strong future in the UK.

“We ask that ministers give PSA and other manufacturers a clear signal that Government will do all it needs to do to support this crucial sector through the Brexit process.”

Cars parked at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere PortCars parked at the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port (Peter Byrne/PA)

Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: “If this news tells us anything it is that business won’t wait around whilst ministers argue amongst themselves,” and asked Ms Perry to say to her colleagues that the “posturing and prevarication has to stop”.

Ms Perry said there had been “very significant investment news from auto industries in the last few months”, adding: “So there is a vote of confidence – let’s make sure that continues.”