Motor manufacture and EU membership

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John Redwood’s latest blog discusses Nissan’s recent announcement and EU membership.

Last week Nissan made a most welcome announcement. They said the new Juke car will be made in the UK, with a £100 million investment in their Sunderland factory assuring its jobs and success through into the next decade. When asked by the BBC, their Chairman confirmed that this decision was not dependent on any particular outcome to the referendum on UK’s membership of the EU. The decision is a recognition of the efficiency and quality of work in the UK and the growing market for cars here.

Tata Motors have come to a similar decision, with their announcement of a £400 million expansion, including a new engine plant in the UK. They too have been impressed by the quality, efficiency and technology the UK is capable of delivering, and like the UK domestic market for their products.

I welcome this for its own sake. I too have been impressed by what has been achieved in recent years. The UK now has world beating factories achieving great results.

I also welcome what this means for the EU referendum debate. Some years ago three leading car producers with factories in the UK made clear they wished the UK to enter the Euro, and went on to say they would not carry on investing here if the UK stayed out. I will not repeat the quotes and name the companies, as I am pleased to report they all changed their minds, and all went on to invest more. It appears that this time round the pro EU politicians will not be able to rely on quotes from overseas car producers to justify their threatening and wrong forecasts that we will watch our car industry shrink if we leave the EU, as the main players are committed to long term expansion plans regardless of the decision.

As I have long argued, there is no way we wish to end up with tariffs against German or French car imports into the UK, even though they sell more to us than we sell to them. There is no likelihood of new higher tariffs on cars made here. Germany has told us she does not want higher tariffs on the car trade with the UK. The worldwide industry will go on investing in the UK all the time management and workforce do a great job on quality, efficiency and cost. If we vote to leave the EU we will still trade with them, be friends with them, and have many agreements and contacts with them.

Click here to read this piece in John Redwood’s Diary.

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