A major plank of Labour's campaign to remain in the European Union has been 'shattered' today, according to Sunderland's UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.
All parties have welcomed the news that Nissan is to invest a further £100 million in its Sunderland plant, but comments by Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox on the ‘Today’ programme make it clear that Nissan is investing in the UK, irrespective of the result of the UK's referendum on European Union membership.
Mr Willcox stated, "our position in terms of competitiveness is driven by not only the situation in Europe in terms of whether we're in or out of the EU, but more importantly the commitment of the people in the North East and supply chain. Focus really should be in that area because that is why we have such a great success story - the combined impact of our investment but also supply chain and a great workforce."
Labour's MEPs had threatened that Nissan could leave the UK if Britain voted 'out' in the referendum. The Labour MEPs' website still states "Nissan have said they'd consider leaving the UK if we left the EU. Other countries might prefer if Nissan relocated there rather than have us enter a free trade deal with them."
But UKIP's Jonathan Arnott said "We are absolutely delighted that more investment is coming to our region, directly guaranteeing 6,700 jobs and a further 27,000 in the supply chain, despite a general lack of government investment in our infrastructure.
“We also welcome today's categorical confirmation that Nissan is here to stay, as we knew all along. We have guarantees of a free trade deal if we were to leave the EU, and World Trade Organisation rules would prevent the kind of punitive tariffs Labour are warning about.
"Labour's claims have been utterly shattered, and this news is a huge blow for them. In ten separate articles on their website, local Labour MEPs claim that we must stay in the EU to prevent firms like Nissan leaving the UK.
“Labour gold-plated Nissan's actual words to seek votes, and now their scaremongering has come back to bite them. It's a low blow to threaten people with unemployment if they don't support the European Union, and today's announcements will set many minds at rest. There's a key question of trust here; Labour needs to stop putting words into the mouth of big business and using them as a political football.
“Outside the European Union, not only would we trade freely with Europe but we'd also regain the power to negotiate our own trade deals. Suddenly, deals with emerging markets like China and a special relationship with the Commonwealth countries might be on the horizon.
“As the EU's share of world GDP declines, it's time to look to the future and to a wider world of trading possibilities,” he said.