Prime Minister THERESA MAY writes exclusively for the Sunderland Echo to explain why the Nissan announcement is great news for Wearside...
Nissan’s decision to carry on backing the Sunderland plant is brilliant news for Britain. But, much more importantly, it is a huge vote of confidence in the skilled workers of Wearside.
Those workers have turned the Nissan factory into one of the most productive car plants anywhere in the world.
And that’s why they will carry on building the Qashqai – and why the X-Trail will soon be rolling off the production line too.
The production of those new models will support about 7,000 jobs in the plant itself and about 20,000 jobs in the local supply sector. So this really is great news for Wearside, but also for the North East as a whole.
It is the latest instalment in a tremendously successful 30-year relationship between Nissan and Sunderland – a relationship which already sees more than 500,000 cars produced every year and which is now set to continue for many years into the future.
One of the key planks of the government I lead is building a proper industrial strategy for the country, creating and supporting skilled jobs like those at the Nissan plant and in its supply chain, and building on our existing industrial, scientific, creative and commercial strengths.
So I was determined that my government would do everything we could to support Nissan’s leaders in making this momentous decision – that’s why I welcomed senior management to Downing Street for talks.
The Chancellor has also met Nissan’s senior management team, while Business Secretary Greg Clark made two trips to Japan and has spoken to Nissan on many more occasions. We were all able to assure the car company’s top team that Britain’s economy and its manufacturing sector will continue to thrive after Brexit.
My government has been telling big employers such as Nissan that we are determined to get the best possible trading deal with the EU as we leave, and yesterday’s decision clearly shows faith in our ability to strike such a deal.
The voters in Sunderland were very clear that they saw a future for Britain outside the EU – indeed the scenes from the Sunderland count have become some of the defining images of the referendum.
My message to those who voted to leave is the same as my message to those who voted to remain – we will make a success of Brexit on behalf of everyone in the country.
Yesterday’s decision by Nissan is an important step in reinforcing the message that Britain will forge its own place in the world as an outward-looking, global trading nation when we leave the EU.
But one of the key aims of my industrial strategy will be that the UK does not become dependent on any one sector. And the same is true for the regions of the country.
So my government is also pursuing a wider economic plan for the region, including £5m investment in a new advanced manufacturing park, through the Sunderland and South Tyneside City Deal.
That cash comes on top of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal – a huge investment programme that will support economic growth in the region for years to come.
When I stood on the steps of Downing Street after becoming Prime Minister, I said I would build a country that truly worked for everyone – not just the privileged few. I believe that is also what the people of Sunderland voted for in the referendum.
Developing a proper industrial strategy will be vital in delivering that pledge – not just for the workers of Wearside, but for people across the UK.
The industrial skills of the people of Sunderland are, of course, known around the world. The ships once built on the banks of the Wear demonstrated that manufacturing might to all corners of the globe.
Nissan vehicles exported from the Sunderland plant will continue to show off those skills for years to come. I am pleased my government was able to help deliver that deal – and I look forward to more industrial success for the region in the future.