Ford-owned Land Rover was yesterday facing a challenge from British union leaders over plans to shed 1,000 jobs at Solihull and create a similar number at Halewood by shifting production of the Freelander from the Midlands to Merseyside, The Daily Telegraph said.

According to the newspaper, AMICUS, the engineering union, said it would fight the decision and called on Ford to think again. Derek Simpson, general secretary, said shop stewards were being called to a meeting after Solihull’s holiday shutdown to agree a “fight-back campaign”, the report added.

The Daily Telegraph said Land Rover has attempted to cushion the blow by announcing a further £200m investment at Solihull to produce a multi-vehicle platform for its other off-road models, but religious leaders are wading into the battle.

The paper said the Rt Rev John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham, is calling on the government to intervene and reportedly said: “All over the West Midlands the manufacturing base where industry flourished and Britain was made great is being increasingly eradicated in the name of efficiency.”

The Daily Telegraph noted that Ford said the switch would mean its Premier Automotive Group had its two highest volume products – the Freelander and Jaguar X series – under one roof at Halewood.