Sunderland’s new electric vehicle revolution shows why we voted for Brexit

WHO could forget that totemic moment when Sunderland was the first to declare its votes in favour of Brexit.

Five years on – after all the wrangling and the parliamentary trench warfare – we’re out of the EU, we have a deal, and we’re reaping the benefits.

Nowhere else is this more true than the symbolic birthplace of Brexit: the city of Sunderland.

Yesterday I visited Nissan where they and global battery company Envision AESC unveiled a £1billion investment package.

From the mid-2020s, the plant will see the next generation electric vehicles running off the production line, using batteries made just down the road at the UK’s first at-scale Gigafactory.

This mammoth commitment will create over 1,600 well paid, highly skilled jobs, securing Nissan’s footprint in Sunderland for many decades to come.

This vote of confidence is further evidence that the UK remains one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing.

And what do we have to thank for all this wonderful news? Well, Nissan chief Ashwani Gupta could not have been clearer when he said this is “thanks to Brexit”.

Critics had said such confidence and investment would not be possible after a vote to leave the EU.

Scaremongers cried wolf that companies, including Nissan, would be forced to leave the UK.

Well, here we are five years later. Not only are Nissan staying put, but they’re doubling down.

It should now be clear to even the staunchest critics, the deal that we negotiated with the European Union gave businesses the certainty, clarity and stability they needed to invest.

All around the world, countries are competing for investment. We should be in no doubt that this is a global race – and as Business Secretary, it’s my job to ensure we’re fighting fit.


Leaders around the world are urging international businesses to invest in their countries. So we cannot, nor should we, sit idly by or we risk being left behind.

As it always has done, the prosperity of our country depends on inward investment, so Global Britain must well and truly open its arms to old friends and new allies across the world.

We’re giving investors the business-friendly environment they need to prosper.

And through Liz Truss’ super trade deals, we are making the most of regaining our rightful status as an independent trading nation.

Thanks to the strength of Britain’s workforce, our innovative spirit and commitment to rolling back the red table that has so long weighed companies down while EU members, we are consistently ranked as one of the top destinations of inward investment around the world.

Just last month, city analysts EY put us ahead of France and Germany as the best place for companies to invest.

Global Britain must well and truly open its arms to old friends and new allies across the world.

This enviable reputation has been turbocharged with a world leading vaccine roll-out – again thanks to our canny post-Brexit nimbleness – which will soon allow us to reclaim our treasured freedoms and get our economy running on all cylinders again.

The impact of this reputation is that, just as Nissan has done, companies are choosing to invest.

Earlier this year, AstraZeneca, a key player in that amazing vaccine roll-out, announced a mega £380million investment in new top class facility in Macclesfield.

Elsewhere, major US company, GE Renewable Energy are building a new blade factory in Teesside – when they could have gone elsewhere.

These are just some of the companies lining up to invest in the UK, bringing good jobs and opportunity with them.

Nissan’s announcement yesterday is just the beginning, and the good news is sure to keep coming – not just for Britain’s automotive industry, but for the whole country as companies look to our country as the best place to invest and grow.

Through Government and industry working together, our new Office for Investment, and our powerful new freedoms outside of the EU, we’re delivering that positive vision the people voted for.

Freedom to back new industries, create more jobs, trade with new partners and roll back red tape to boost inward investment.

Nissan’s decision this week is proof, if any was needed, that our referendum decision all those years ago turned out to be a “very smart” bet indeed.

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