A warning over the possibility of Japanese firms such as Nissan quitting the UK in the wake of the decision to leave the EU sparked a war of words between Echo readers on-line.
Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka said Japanese companies could move operations out of the UK if Brexit made it a less profitable place to do business.
It’s an insult to the hard-working people of the North East, who have made this plant the most efficient and productive car plant in Europe, if not the world.Trev King
Many people on the Echo’s Facebook page said the warning came as no surprise.
Brett Redmayne wrote: “Was obvious this was going to happen. If suddenly it costs 10% more to export a car then why would Nissan stay?
“Business isn’t about loyalty, all these people saying we have the rest of the world to trade with if Nissan leave doesn’t make sense. USA have already said we would be at the back of pack as they prefer to negotiate with a central EU deal.”
Phil Marsden predicted Nissan would be around for a while, but said the plant’s future was not guaranteed: “Nissan won’t close the factory overnight,” he said.
“However, if trade conditions are not favourable, they will stop investing in Sunderland in favour of other plants. If this happens those who voted Leave only have themselves to blame.”
Margaret Crosby said: “Nissan has at least one other manufacturing plant in Europe. All they have to do is put investment there for new models & production lines, and cut back on investment here. Jobs will be cut. Partner industries will suffer.”
And Paul Cawte said the plant’s future would be dictated by stark economic reality: “When Nissan decide to build a new model, they will, of course, evaluate which plant will be the cheapest, based on the markets they are targeting.
“If people want to believe a white knight will come galloping in or UK industry will be transformed over night, they are delusional. It could be that in the long term outside of the EU, the UK is able to prosper based on new found freedoms - but it ain’t going to happen quickly.”
EU taxes could be critical, warned Allan Strange: “Eighty-five per cent of cars manufactured at Sunderland are sold to the EU,” he said.
“If - sorry - when we leave the EU and free trade stops, if will cost Nissan VAT on every car, something that will make Nissan cars more expensive in the market .
“It won’t happen. Nissan will relocate in Spain, Portugal, Italy etc. The writing is on the wall unless our so-called government can do the business in Brussels.”
But Trev King was more optimistic: “It’s an insult to the hard-working people of the North East, who have made this plant the most efficient and productive car plant in Europe, if not the world,” he said.
“If they did shut it, would it not be possible for a British company to reopen it, as the hardware and infrastructure are already in place and a willing skilled workforce at the ready?”
And Laura Elgie said fears over the future of the plant were premature: “Has anyone even READ the article?? Nobody from Nissan has even commented.
“This article is based on conjecture from the Japanese Ambassador. You’re all going off half-cocked about Nissan leaving when that’s not what has been said at all.”
Darren Underwood predicted the cost of setting up an alternative plant would put Nissan off a move: “Think about the work they would have to do just to get a new factory up and running, then you have all the side companies who make all the parts and fittings, then train a whole new work force to do the jobs of the lads and lasses and to their standard of workmanship, then during all this do you really think that Nissan are going to turn customers away?”
And Tony Isles predicted Brexit would be a success: “Get over it please, Brexit happened. The UK will be stronger and we are big enough to stand on our own two feet,” he said, while Bob Surtees said the report was ‘scaremongering.’
“There’s no way they would move, the grants they’ve had over the years run into millions. Where would they go? Europe’s in turmoil.”