MP calls on Government to protect Wearside car battery firm jobs

Wearside MP Sharon Hodgson has called on the Government to protect electric vehicle battery production in her Washington and Sunderland West constituency.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 5:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st December 2020, 5:08 pm

Speaking in the Brexit Bill debate in the Commons, Mrs Hodgson said she welcomed the Government’s efforts to avoid tariffs. She voted for the Brexit Deal on December 30, alongside Sunderland’s other MPs Bridget Phillipson and Julie Elliott.

But she expressed concern for the Envision AESC factory near Nissan, which she says has already been forced to cut 100 new jobs due to Covid difficulties.

By 2024 electric vehicle batteries must be of UK or EU origin, to allow export to the EU under the deal.

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Washington and Sunderland West member Sharon Hodgson was one of 162 Labour MPs to vote for the Government's Brexit bill.

Mrs Hodgson also said: “The deal states that all vehicles exported into the EU must be of at least 55% UK or EU content by 2027.”

She added: “Brexit has always been about damage limitation for the automotive industry. However, if the Government acts accordingly, the next three years offer an incredible opportunity to level up, especially in the North East.

“The Government must commit now to ensuring that areas with large car manufacturing plants, such as the North East, are the beneficiaries of the development of a domestic supply chain of components such as electrodes, which are at the moment predominantly imported from Asia.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not in the House to answer MPs’ questions directly. However, he told the BBC that the deal, finally agreed after four years of turmoil, allowed the UK to “have its cake and eat it.”

Mr Johnson said: “What they said was you couldn't have free trade with the EU unless you conformed with the EU's laws.

“That has turned out not to be true. I want you to see that this is a ‘cakeist’ treaty."

Mrs Hodgson’s vote in favour of the deal comes after she had voted against different versions of Brexit deals in the past. But she preferred the final deal to no deal at all.

The vote was carried in the Commons by 521 votes to 73 after Labour leader Kier Starmer instructed his MPs to back the deal. Only one voted against with 36 abstentions.

Mrs Hodgson said: “This deal is better than no deal and gives us something to build on.”

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