The prospect of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal at the end of the year intensified on Friday, December 4, when trade talks were “paused” so that both sides could hold internal discussions.
At the same time, campaigners held the latest in a series of demonstrations outside Nissan’s Washington plant, which directly employs thousands of workers, to highlight fears that a no-deal conclusion could ultimately trigger the factory’s demise.
Demonstrators braved the wet weather on Friday evening to brandished placards with messages including “No deal = no Nissan” and “We need a deal. Save North East jobs. Please, please, please”.
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The number taking part was restricted to six in line with social distancing guidelines.
Group spokesperson Julie Ward said: “The Government's dangerous game-playing in the current negotiations puts hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at risk.
"It's not just the workers at Nissan who will suffer if Nissan choose to pull out of Sunderland or scale down their operation in the UK.
"In my village 25 miles from the plant, several generations of the same family work at the plant or in the supply chain. Whole families and communities will feel the impact.
“On top of the coronavirus pandemic, the double whammy of Brexit will plunge many into poverty and despair.
"No deal will be disastrous and a bare-bones deal won't be much better. The Government need to take a different approach and put lives and livelihoods first in these unprecedented times.”
Nissan has previously warned that the future of the Washington factory could be in doubt in the event of a no-deal Brexit when the transition period ends on Thursday, December 31.
Global chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told the BBC earlier this year that the EU was the biggest customer for vehicles built on on Wearside with around 70% of cars leaving here going to the EU.
He added that a 10% tariff - which would be the default World Trade Organisation rate in the event of no-deal - would mean such an arrangement was not viable.