Nissan says '˜no comment' on future of Sunderland plant after Brexit

Nissan has refused to comment on what today's EU referendum means for the future of its Sunderland plant.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 1:28 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:44 am

The car giant - which employs 8,000 people in the UK across its Sunderland factory, Cranfield engineering centre and Paddington design base, and supports a further 32,000 jobs nationwide indirectly through dealerships and its supply chain - has made no secret of the fact it favoured an ‘In’ vote, even though it did not actively campaign for one.

A spokeswoman said this morning: “We will not be commenting at this time.”

But Nissan said in February it believed it made ‘the most sense for jobs, trade and costs’ for the UK to stay within Europe.

Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said then: “We are a global business with a strong presence in Europe.

“We have a rich heritage in the UK, with 30 years of manufacturing and engineering presence, and remain committed to building and engineering cars in the country. Last year we produced more than 475,000 vehicles in the UK – 80 per cent of which are exported.

“Our preference as a business is, of course, that the UK stays within Europe - it makes the most sense for jobs, trade and costs. For us, a position of stability is more positive than a collection of unknowns.

“While we remain committed to our existing investment decisions, we will not speculate on the outcome nor what would happen in either scenario.

“We obviously want the Nissan UK plant and engineering centre to remain as competitive as possible when compared with other global entities, and each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case by case basis, just as it is now.”

Ukip MEP Diane James said the large win for leave in Sunderland could be down to anger over Nissan writing to employees to make clear the company would prefer Britain to stay in the EU.

She told BBC News: “Nissan, I believe, was one of those companies that was effectively asked by the Prime Minister to write a letter to the employees and I think what you’re seeing here is the reaction to that, which I understand has been quite widespread across the country where people have actually taken offence at being directed to do something and then seemingly that whole message has been undermined in the later stage.”The national motoring industry body says the Government must make a deal with the EU to secure the automotive industry.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “The British public has chosen a new future out of Europe.

“Government must now maintain economic stability and secure a deal with the EU which safeguards UK automotive interests. This includes securing tariff-free access to European and other global markets, ensuring we can recruit talent from the EU and the rest of the world and making the UK the most competitive place in Europe for automotive investment.”

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