Volume production is finally back on track at Longbridge – and the Phoenix Four say it could have happened six years ago but for “political chicanery.”

A bitter war of words between the ex MG Rover bosses and factory campaigners threatened to overshadow a momentous day at Longbridge, with the launch of the first customer MG6.

The Phoenix Four issued a statement full of praise for the new dawn at the Midlands’ most famous factory – but attacked the previous Labour Government for killing off MG Rover.

The statement said: “It is a sad irony that the business plan now being put in place by SAIC is virtually the same as the one that failed in 2005 when the Labour Government pulled the plug on it.

“What has happened today could have happened six years ago were it not for the political chicanery and duplicitousness of the last Government.

“Having triggered the death of MG Rover and put thousands of good employees onto the dole, they then spent six years and many millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to shift the blame onto someone else.”

But Northfield Labour MP and long-time Longbridge supporter Richard Burden said: “I think the statement is pathetic. There has been an independent inquiry which was comprehensive and very clear in its conclusions.

“What former MG Rover workers want to know from the Phoenix Four is when they are going to get their money from the Trust Fund. My message to the Phoenix Four is to put up or shut up, preferably both.

“Frankly, it’s pretty churlish to pick today of all days to make this kind of statement.”

As the row broke, MG revealed it was returning to zero – with a new small hatchback to help drive forward the long-awaited return of mass car production at Longbridge.

MG Motor UK’s Zero concept car is to give birth to a new hatchback, the MG3, set to take its place next year among the ranks of the new model range at the Birmingham car factory.

And also in the pipeline is the MG5 concept car, a five-door hatchback which will make its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show next week.