Vauxhall’s Luton plant will shut down with the loss of about 2,000 jobs, the car maker has confirmed in a shock move, Sky News reports.

Chairman Nick Reilly said the decision, taken at the company’s European headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, was necessary to retain competitive manufacturing in the UK.

Unions leaders were called into an emergency meeting with Vauxhall bosses hours before the announcement was made.

The company blamed the “rapidly changing” European market conditions for the closure of the Bedfordshire plant, which makes the mid-range Vauxhall Vectra. It added that the market was saturated.

The 2,000 workers will lose their jobs over the next 15 months with “very reasonable” redundancy packages being offered, the company said.

But the closure will have a severe impact on the area and has provoked fury among union leaders.