Nissan issues stark hard-Brexit warning as car sales plummet

Posted On: 
4th October 2018

Nissan today became the latest major car manufacturer to warn against a no-deal Brexit as new figures revealed plummeting vehicle sales.

Nissan employs some 7,000 people in Sunderland and more elsewhere in the UK
Credit: 
PA Images

The Japanese firm - which employs almost 7,000 people at its Sunderland plant - said crashing out of the EU without a future trading arrangement would have “serious implications”.

Nissan joins BMW, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover in warning against a hard-Brexit, which the Government has been boosting preparations for.

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Its intervention deals a major blow to ministers, who last year convinced the firm to build two new models at its Sunderland plant.

Theresa May has just under two weeks to secure a deal with the bloc or risk quitting on World Trade Organisation rules - which would slap 4.5% tariffs on car parts and 10% on finished cars.

In a rare statement, the main board of Nissan in Japan told the Guardian: “Frictionless trade has enabled the growth that has seen our Sunderland plant become the biggest factory in the history of the UK car industry, exporting more than half of its production to the EU.

“Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like.

“A sudden change from those rules to the rules of the World Trading Organization will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.”

Bridget Phillipson, the Labour MP for Sunderland and campaigner for a second Brexit referendum, said: “These latest warnings from Nissan will set alarm bells ringing across the North East.

“If the botched Brexit that's being pushed by the Government leads to lost manufacturing jobs in my region or in other parts of the UK, it will not be forgiven or forgotten.”

It comes as new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed the total number of vehicles registered in September was down 20.5% compared with the same month the year before.

The SMMT said there had been “exceptional circumstances,” with the pressure of re-approving new European models impacting markets around the continent.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake fumed: “With a 20% fall in sales last month, the Tory Brexit mess is punishing the car industry.”