FEARS that a vote to leave the European Union would jeopardise thousands of jobs at Washington’s Nissan factory is “scaremongering” according to a Tory councillor.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that should his party win the next general election an in-out referendum on Europe will be held by the end of 2017.
A memo from the Japanese government sent to the Foreign Office said Japanese companies were attracted to the UK market because it offered a gateway to trade with Europe.
It indicated that should this relationship be lost, the repercussions could jeopardise tens of thousands of British jobs with Japanese companies, including more than at Sunderland’s Nissan plant.
Sunderland’s conservative group leader, Coun Robert Oliver, rubbished the claims, saying companies like Nissan were not just going to relocate at the drop of a hat.
“I think it’s an exaggeration,” he said. “I just don’t think that a company that’s been in Sunderland for about 20 years and has established its factory and supply chain and workforce is just going to get up and go and relocate to somewhere else in the European Union.
“I think that companies can trade with the European Union even if they are outside of it.
“There may be a tax or tariff, but the European Union would be very foolish to put that tax or tariff at such a level that it prohibits trade.”
Nissan declined to comment.