Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'Car Industry at Risk with Exit from EU'

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'Car Industry at Risk with Exit from EU'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

FOREIGN investment in North East manufacturing could dry up if Britain votes to leave the European Union, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has warned.

He said the car industry, which employs thousands, would be particularly hurt by a decision to quit the EU.

Japanese motor giant Nissan employs 6,000 at its site in Sunderland. In January, it announced a further investment of PS26.5million to produce a future generation of electric vehicle batteries. Mr Hammond was speaking to the Chronicle as the battle for Britain's future was firmly underway, following Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement that a referendum on EU membership will be held on June 23.

The Foreign Secretary also said: | The remaining EU countries will punish Britain if it quits by forcing us to pay a high price for access to EU markets; | The UK could be forced to open its borders to the EU's 500million citizens even if it leaves; | A decision to quit the EU would be permanent - but if the country chooses to stay, it could change its mind 20 or 30 years later.

Mr Hammond said foreign firms wanted to invest in the UK because it is an English-speaking nation with a commitment to free trade and a legal system they trusted - and which gave them access to the EU market of 28 countries and 500 million people.

He said: "I think people both in the North East in particular will recognise the benefits that Britain has been able to enjoy as a very attractive, some would say preferred location, for inward manufacturing investment to service the European Union markets.

"The car industry in particular has benefited from the combination of Britain's very strong industrial heritage, very attractive environment for foreign manufacturers to come and set up plants and invest and create jobs, while at the same time being able to offer a domestic market of 500 million people.

"The car industry - and the people who work in the car industry are not of course just the car manufacturers but the huge supply chain - will recognise very well that the kind of volumes of cars they are producing would never be sustainable on the back of the British market alone. …

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