As MPs, MEPs and Peers from Sunderland and across the North East of England, we have a duty to our constituents to make sure we are representing them and securing the best possible future for them and their families.
That is why we cannot ignore recent warnings from Nissan’s Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn that the company is “in the dark” over proposed plans for Brexit and that the company has no option but to pause investment plans in the UK until they get more clarity from Downing Street.
Over 7,000 people are employed by Nissan in Sunderland, while 30,000 more across the North East rely on the plant as part of the manufacturing chain. Any risk to those jobs and our region’s prosperity shows why we believe that the Brexit deal being negotiated by the Government represents a serious threat to our future.
We all felt a huge sense of relief and hope when Sunderland secured the Qashqai and X-Trail models, but since then there have been worrying signs for motor manufacturing in the UK. Companies including BMW and Jaguar Land Rover have recently issued warnings that jobs and sales may be at risk over Brexit, and we all know the North East isn’t immune from those warnings.
The North East is home to some of the most specialised and highest quality manufacturing and skilled workers in the world, but jobs and growth in our region rely on a trading environment where companies and manufacturers have confidence in this country’s direction, and that means our politicians have to fight for that future.
Nissan’s warnings come hard on the heels of the warning from Mike Hawes, the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, that “There is no Brexit dividend for our industry”, and that we face an increasingly hostile and protectionist global trading environment. The SMMT revealed that £347 million of investment was earmarked for new car models and facilities in the UK in the first half of 2018 – just over half of the £647.4 million investment set aside for motor manufacturing in the same period in 2017.
The Government hopes to get a final deal on Brexit in March next year, but that’s no use for our businesses in the North East, whether they are large or small, who need to make investment decisions sooner rather than later. With the current mess being made of Brexit that confidence is at risk of quickly slipping away.
Let’s be clear: this isn’t about re-running the 2016 referendum. The result was a narrow vote in favour of leaving the EU, but it was a vote to leave, so the Government does have a mandate to try and negotiate a Brexit deal.
Whatever you think of Brexit, whether you think it’s a good deal or a bad deal, there’s no denying it’s a big deal for the North East. That’s why more and more people are supporting the idea of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.
- Bridget Phillipson MP (Houghton and Sunderland South)
- Julie Elliott MP (Sunderland Central)
- Phil Wilson MP (Sedgefield)
- Anna Turley MP (Redcar)
- Paul Brannen MEP (North East of England)
- Catherine McKinnell MP (Newcastle North)
- Paul Williams MP (Stockton South)
- Jude Kirton-Darling MEP (North East of England)
- Baroness Joyce Quin (Former MEP and Minister of State for Europe)