Quitting the EU is ‘a high risk strategy’ for Sunderland, reckons former MP Chris Mullin.
“I was very disappointed by the outcome,” he said.
“I think it’s a high risk strategy from a Sunderland point of view. Nissan came here to get inside the EU – that’s why they came here.
“I don’t think they will pull up sticks and disappear but I do think there’s a risk that when a decision has to be taken about a new model, next time round it won’t go to Sunderland.
“That’s a risk – I’m not saying it will happen but that would be very damaging and I just wonder how many people thought about that.
“Also the North East in general, and Sunderland in particular, has done pretty well out of the EU. There’s quite a lot of landscaping of all the old pits, there’s a lot of EU money in there.
“A lot of the help the North East had clearing up after the collapse of our traditional industries came from the EU.
“Some of it’s gone East anyway, but that’s where the poorest countries are now. There was a time when we and Liverpool were the poorest parts of the EU. I took part in that Sky television programme about why people in Sunderland voted for Brexit and what was striking was how many different reasons there were and how few of them related to the EU. That’s the problem with referendums – decisions are often taken for reasons other than the question on the ballot paper.
“Migration was a big issue. If there was one single issue, it was migration.
“I heard an interview in a workingmen’s social club in Sunderland three or days before and they were all asked how they were going to vote. They were all going to vote out.
“They were asked why. They all said migration.
“Then the interviewer said, “Big problem with migration in Sunderland, is there?’ “Oh, no, no, not really in Sunderland,’ they said.
“‘Has migration ever had any impact on your lives?’’Well, no, not us, but it’s a bit of a problem down south,’ they said.
“Well, I thought, when have they ever cared about down south? Or, for that matter, when has down south ever cared about them?’
“But I do accept there is a genuine issue there.
“I do understand that people in basic manual jobs are being undercut in some parts of the country – not very much I think in Sunderland – by the fact that migrants from Eastern Europe are willing to work for less and that does need to be addressed.”