Nissan: Lib Dems call for People’s Vote on Brexit as car giant confirms X-Trail won’t be made at Sunderland plant

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has called for a People’s Vote on Brexit in the wake of Nissan’s confirmation that one of its vehicles will be built in Japan instead of in Sunderland.

Nissan confirmed on Sunday that its new X-Trail model will not be built at its Sunderland plant, as announced in 2016, but in Japan instead.

The news broke over the weekend, and was confirmed in a letter to workers.

Seven thousand people work at the car firm’s plant in Washington, where the Qashqai, Juke, Q30, Note and electric Leaf are made - and many have hailed the news as a blow the North East region and its economy.

Vince Cable, leader of the Lib Dems, said the Government has “destroyed businesses’ confidence in the UK” - and that a People’s Vote was the only way to get the country out of so-called “chaos”.

He said: “The Conservatives have lost the right to call themselves the party of business. If these reports are true, the extent to which the Government have destroyed businesses’ confidence in the UK is clear.

Thousands work at the Nissan plant in Washington.

Thousands work at the Nissan plant in Washington.

“This is a massively significant decision which has largely been driven by Brexit. Nissan has been a big British success story based on confidence in the United Kingdom. This decision is just as symbolic as it is important.

“The Liberal Democrats are clear that the only way to give business the certainty they need and get the country out of this chaos is to offer a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Following the news, Nissan Europe Chairman Gianluca de Ficchy said the company has “full confidence” in its workforce in Sunderland, and that the region will continue to benefit from planned investment in the Juke and Qashqai models.

Related content: ‘Why is secret Brexit deal no longer good enough for Nissan?’, ask Labour after X-Trail blow for Sunderland plant

Carlton West, Lib Dem campaigner in Washington.

Carlton West, Lib Dem campaigner in Washington.

Lib Dems on Wearside have also had their say, with campaigners calling for answers on the plant’s future in the region.

Carlton West, who campaigns for the party in Washington, said in a statement that his party has asked questions about “risks assessments on the plant’s future” and is also seeking clarity on the the International Advanced Manufacturing Plant, which supports Nissan in the region.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “The automotive sector in this country is vitally important and needs to be protected. At present there is over-capacity in the EU so businesses like Nissan in Washington need every bit of support to be successful.

“Brexit is making this situation harder. The EU has also just signed a complex free-trade deal with Japan which is extremely concerning for our automotive industry if we leave with no deal, due to the sophistication of the sector’s extensive supply chain.

“We need clarity on our future trading arrangements with the EU as the impact on our economy is now becoming so damaging.”