Conservatives have urged Wearsiders to ‘trust’ in Prime Minister Theresa May after it was revealed that Nissan will review the competitiveness of its Sunderland plant when Brexit negotiations are completed.
The car giant announced in October that it was investing in production of new Qashqai and X-Trail models at Sunderland after receiving Government assurances that EU withdrawal would not affect the plant’s competitiveness.
But, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said the company trusted Prime Minister Theresa May’s assurances, adding however that the company would want to “re-evaluate the situation” once the final deal is concluded.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said Mrs May’s Government is “gambling with the future of the people of Sunderland” by announcing that Britain will leave the Single Market and Customs Union.
But the city’s Conservative group has labelled Ms Elliott’s comments as “nonsense” and urged others to trust in Mrs May and the Government to get the best deal for the country.
Tory councillor Peter Wood said: “Of course Nissan will need to review the competitiveness of their Sunderland car plant in the light of the final Brexit deal.
“That’s just good business practice and common sense.
“All businesses will have to review their competitiveness.
“That’s why we must get the best Brexit deal we can.
“But until the negotiations are complete nobody will know precisely what those terms will be.
“Carlos Ghosn said Nissan trusted Theresa May, the Prime Minister - Julie Elliott should do the same.
“He also said Nissan will continue in Sunderland on the assumption the plant will remain competitive ‘no matter what is the outcome of Brexit’.
“What Julie Elliott needs to remember is that the people voted for Brexit - and very heavily in her constituency.
“Respecting the views of the electorate, Theresa May and the Conservative Government are negotiating to get the best possible deal they can.
“It is nonsense to say the Government is “gambling” with anybody’s future.
“It is accepting the will of the British people, freely expressed in a democratic referendum.
“It is time Julie Elliott did the same.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Niall Hodson said: “The comments from Nissan make clear that the nature of the Brexit deal that the Government strikes is all important when it comes to supporting industry in the UK.
“On top of that, we have no idea of the scale of the risk Brexit poses to small businesses in Sunderland and further afield.
“Many of the other probable impacts of Brexit – such as a crash in the value of the pound leading to inflation – are likely to emerge in the coming months.
“Julie Elliott and her party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have been utterly clueless and directionless in standing up to the Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit.
“Theresa May is indeed gambling with our future, but Labour are fiddling while Rome burns – only the Liberal Democrats are joining with businesses to call for the UK to remain in the single market for the sake of our country’s economy and stability.”
Echo readers have also had their say about the latest twist in the story on our Facebook page.
John Coates wrote: “How come factory in Sunderland has proved best in Europe, yet we still get blackmail be strong like old North East people?”
Jon Moorhouse wrote: “Sunderland voted for this.
“We will be stuck with the Tories for a generation thanks to Brexit.
“As if May was really going to guarantee Nissan a tariff-free deal....still, we can always pick fruit.”
Brian Lucey wrote: “How did Sunderland vote again? Oh, yeah, to leave.
“Sympathy, zero. You broke it, you bought it.”
Seema Sud added: “I did not vote for May to damage our economy and come out of single market, how dare she do that!”
Jean Wright wrote: “Scare tactics again.”