I am extremely concerned that the vague promises of gold at the end of the rainbow by the Brexit followers could destroy the real lives of thousands of families in the North East who depend directly or indirectly on the future success of Nissan.
As coordinator of the inter authority team, which negotiated with Nissan in 1984, I can say with certainty that the UK’s membership of the European Economic Community was a central plank in the companies long term strategy. The geographic location of the Sunderland site and the adjoining ports were identified as major benefits because of their accessibility to mainland Europe.
We are now assured by such reputable economic pundits as Matt Ridley (ex-Northern Rock chairman ) that we need not fear as Nissan will not be affected. No one suggests that the company would up sticks and leave overnight. Rather it will decline as future investment is diverted to Renault in France.
Nissan owns 15% of non voting shares in Renault, Renault owns 40% of voting shares in Nissan and the French Government owns 20% of Renault. Given political realities, does anyone really think the French Government would stand by while new investment is sent out of the EEC rather than to its own under utilized factories in France.
When in 1984 Lord Marsh rang to tell me that we had been successful in securing the Nissan investment for the region, few envisaged that 30 years later Nissan would employ some 7,000 staff and that thousands of others would be part of the vast infrastructure which supports it.
The opinion of the Brexit campaign is that everything will be all right on the night and that the loss of jobs is a small price to pay for this magical mystery tour into the future. Tell this to the all the families with mortgages,
rents to pay and families to support in a region with the highest unemployment rate in the UK.
In 1984 the joint efforts of the people of this region convinced Nissan to invest millions in our future. We must not allow the rewards of this real achievement to be destroyed in exchange for the vague hopes of the anti-European zealots.
Edwin Robson MRTPI(Ret)