Fiona Hall MEP backs Nissan over jobs risk if UK leaves EU

Nissan LeafThe Journal, which publishes in the North East, quotes Nissan’s chief operating officer, Toshiyuki Shiga, who says that, as a foreign investor, he hopes that the UK will remain as an EU member.  He claims that if the UK decided to leave the EU, the company could potentially experience two ‘obstacles’, namely, UK-specific regulations and standards, and EU imposed import duty.

Nissan’s UK manufacturing plant, which employs over 6000 people, is based in Sunderland.

Fiona Hall, MEP for North East England, is quoted as saying:

As it looks more and more likely that we are heading toward an EU referendum in the coming years, we are finally seeing business leaders make clear their support for the UK staying in.

Up to 140,000 jobs in the North East alone are linked to trade with our EU partners and, as Mr Shiga has made clear, leaving the single market would reduce our competitiveness and threaten jobs.

It’s all too easy to criticise the EU, and UKIP and the Tories have been recklessly talking up a UK exit with scant regard to the devastating consequences for thousands of people whose jobs rely on foreign investment.

And Nissan by no means stands alone. A poll last month showed 80% of businesses supported staying in the EU. That’s why the Liberal Democrats are unapologetically in favour of staying in the EU – it’s vital for jobs and growth.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Eddie Sammon 10th Oct '13 - 9:38am

    This strategy of sounding more like representatives of the EU than the people will only end up one way: our party flat on its face.

    It needn’t be this way, we could have balance, but one thing we don’t currently have is a strategy that is capable of winning a general election.

    People say that the EU is more popular than the party, but people don’t think more highly of the EU than they do themselves… Put the voter first.

  • nuclear cockroach 10th Oct '13 - 10:04am

    @Eddie Sammon

    Rubbish! Electors who are unequivocal in their support for the EU, about a quarter overall, ought to have an equally unequivocal political party to vote for. That isn’t the Conservatives, whose eyes are swivelling ever more violently, nor is it Labour, who triangulate ever more desperately over European issues. The Lib Dems have more votes to win than to lose by outspoken support for the European Union. That doesn’t preclude a recognition of faults in EU decision making that need correction.

  • EFTA and EEA.

    *Up to 140,000 jobs in the North East alone are linked to trade with our EU partners*

    Fun with statistics!

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Oct '13 - 10:21am

    Alright nuclear cockroach but I think we should be aiming for more than 25% of voters.

  • Just at the moment, getting 25% of the vote would be an awesome result! How many MEPs would we get for that!

  • Eddie – EUBarometer figures trended out over the long term put British opinion about the EU as about 33% pro, 33% anti and 33% undecided/floating .

    Anyway, I thought I’d share this, as I saw it hidden away in the business section of Saturday’s Daily Telegraph:

    The (CBI), which represents more than 240,000 companies across the UK, is working with the BDI to enact reform in several areas, rather than repatriation.

    John Cridland, director general of the CBI, is believed to have held a number of conversations with Markus Kerber, his opposite number, about the plan.The two men are understood to feel that the EU’s labour laws need to be reformed in order to support economic growth in both countries.

    But as well as repeal, the two men agree that there should be further harmonisation in a number of areas, in particular telecommunications and services. The discussions form part of the CBI’s agenda to boost the playing field for British industry.

    Sources indicate that the research will show that an overwhelming majority of CBI members think the UK should remain within the EU, but that they would like reform in certain areas. It is understood that the survey’s results are broadly the same for large and small companies, dispelling the myth that owners of smaller firms do not believe they benefit from EU membership.

    A recent separate CBI/YouGov survey of more than 400 businesses found that if a referendum on the future membership of the EU was held tomorrow, a substantial majority of CBI members would support staying in, fearing an exit would affect access to trading markets and business investment. Some 78pc of firms favoured staying in the EU, while 10pc thought it was in their interests to leave.

  • “He claims that if the UK decided to leave the EU, the company could potentially experience two ‘obstacles’, namely, UK-specific regulations and standards, and EU imposed import duty.”

    I think we need to be a bit cleverer in promoting the EU than using rather duff arguments like this. (1) Why would the UK introduce specific regulations that harm its own exports? (2) Why would the EU impose duties, when we have a trade deficit with the rest of the EU and it would have the most to lose from any retaliation?.

    We need to be busy arguing for the benefits of the EU like the potential to grow trade in services, in which the UK has a comparative advantage, as well as the potential for future reform to make the EU work better.

  • If Britain leaves the EU car production in Britain is absolutely finished. I’m just amazed anyone is daft enough to imagine different.

  • “The Journal, which publishes in the North East”

    The Journal is a Newcastle paper and you would be hard pushed to find people who read it in Sunderland. A few years ago, like myself, you would have found the majority here in favour of Europe, sadly that is no longer the case. There is no point in the Liberal Democrats trying to put their opinions across on the benefits of this Union, no one has time for them any more. The argument is lost. When they were needed most of all, all they had was a Tory voice. The consequences of this wretched coalition is yet to bare it’s bitter fruit.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Oct '13 - 10:32pm

    Martin, even if EU Barometer puts support at 33%, I still don’t think it is enough for us to endorse an all-out pro strategy. I don’t like the strategy and I think it stinks of vested interests.

    It is good news that the CBI like it, but I still don’t like our party’s strategy. Using billionaire CEOs like Richard Branson to promote it (which the party was doing the other day) reinforces the image of the EU as an organisation for big business.

  • Yorkshire Guidon 11th Oct '13 - 10:16am

    Wasn’t a reason to join the Euro put around at the time that if we didn’t, foreign investors would up sticks and leave? I think business has to do better than this.

  • *If Britain leaves the EU car production in Britain is absolutely finished. I’m just amazed anyone is daft enough to imagine different.*

    Why do you think that?

  • Martin Lowe 11th Oct '13 - 1:26pm


    Honda/Toyota/Nissan came to the UK in the 1980s to manufacture within the Single European Market.
    If Britain leaves the Single European Market, there’s no reason for them to invest further, and less reason to stay here long-term.

    Don’t go thinking that the world owes us a favour because we’re British – business doesn’t work like that.

  • Does anyone seriously think that motor manufacturers from outside Europe manufacture here in order to serve only the British market? Chris and Martin Lowe are absolutely right – I have it on good authority that some of the Japanese manufacturers are already holding back on investment programmes pending the decision on UK EU membership.

    Japanese industrialists are very loath to make political comments and it is highly significant that the Chief Operating Officer of Nissan has spoken out in this way. Simply rubbishing his warning is both puerile and very dangerous. Our Party must fight all out for retaining our place in the EU.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Oct '13 - 3:39pm

    Eddie Sammon

    This strategy of sounding more like representatives of the EU than the people will only end up one way: our party flat on its face.

    What strategy? Who has that strategy? I don’t see the Liberal Democrats having that strategy. Accusations that we do are the same sort of unhinged thing that accuses anyone who doesn’t adopt an Ayn Rand approach to economics of being a dyed-in-the-wool Commie. I.e. they say more about the accuser that the accused.

    The line you are taking here, Eddie, makes sense only if you hold to the position that the EU is such a bad thing, such an enemy of the people, that saying anything in its favour amounts to taking a position against the people. What is being said here is not some unbalanced starry-eyed “isn’t the EU wonderful?” line, it’s an important factual point which is unlikely to get reported by much of our extremely biased press.

    Unless we are going to give in and take the position that we can’t fight back against this flood of anti-EU propaganda so we might as well join it, taking the position that we are in favour of EU membership, but embarrassed about it, so we won’t talk about it, will do us no favours. It will just feed the line coming from the propaganda merchants that the EU is a thoroughly bad thing, and Liberal Democrats support it because we are bad people.

    Sure, the opinion polls give a majority of the people in this country against EU membership, but if you were to ask them why, to give specific examples of what it is doing that is bad, I think you will find they can’t, apart from the immigration issue – and then you’ll find the immigrants most people get worked up about aren’t from the EU anyway.

    It is very clear that the anti-EU hysteria is being whipped up by a small group of ultra-wealthy people whose dislike of the EU stems from a dislike of international co-operation which stops global finance from playing off one country against another, forcing us all to weaken protection for jobs and health and the environment. Oh, they disguise this with populist nonsense, which appeals to a “back to the past” mentality, but this is so hypocritical, because if there’s one thing that has destroyed old-style Britain more than anything else, it’s globalisation and free market policies. Anyone who REALLY wanted to go back to the 1950s would have to reintroduce the sort of rigid controls of the economy that were done away with by governments from 1979 onwards – that is, they would regard Margaret Thatcher as their principal enemy, not as their inspiration.

  • It is difficult to come up with good arguments when neither “in” nor “out” have been defined yet. Of crucial importance is whether “out” includes staying in the EEA.

    @Matthew Huntbach – I thought you were over using Ayn Rand as shorthand for right-wing. Read her book The Fountainhead, it’s all about the individual versus selling out integrity to big corporations with almost zero mention of any kind of government policy at all.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Oct '13 - 10:04pm

    @Richard S

    Well, ok, one of the problems I have with Rand is that I’d rather have my philosophy straight than hidden in fiction. So I accept I’m going on what people who seem to admire her seem to take from her as philosophy rather than through ploughing through her stories. It’s a similar issue to the one being discussed here on Marx: to what extent are those who call themselves “Marxist” actually following all he said, and to what extent have they adopted what he said to suit their needs, or found an angle on it which gets emphasises over all others. I don’t think the phrase you’ve used “right-wing” quite works either for the viewpoint I mean, and I certainly don’t want to call it “liberal” despite the energetic attempts of some to steal that word and get it to mean this philosophy.

  • Eddie Sammon 11th Oct '13 - 10:41pm

    Matthew, I was exaggerating to make a point. I think an important part of democracy is representing people’s opinions and addressing concerns. Yes if the people have elected you on a pro-EU basis then there is nothing wrong with representing the opinions that you have been elected on, but I think from a party expansion point of view we will only have limited success unless we address wider concerns about the EU.

    There are plenty of left-wing criticisms of the EU and there is no good reason why haven’t been shouting about these and doing something about them. I don’t think our job is to balance propaganda – it is to do a good job.

  • nuclear cockroach 11th Oct '13 - 11:58pm

    @Matthew Huntbach

    You make the mistake of taking Sammon seriously.

  • So if the Conservatives and LibDems are all for reducing red tape and the burden of regulation on our businesses then it would make sense for them to also support staying in the EU, as an exit could only result in more red tape…

  • @Nuclear cockroach – “Rubbish! Electors who are unequivocal in their support for the EU”
    @Matthew – “Sure, the opinion polls give a majority of the people in this country against EU membership”

    I think the problem is with the question being asked, I suspect that the majority of people like being joined up with Europe. However, many do not like the idea of ‘Brussels’ having extensive powers over us, which comes back to the issues of sovereignty and self determination – which are also two major factors behind the Scottish devolution debate.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Oct '13 - 6:46am


    However, many do not like the idea of ‘Brussels’ having extensive powers over us, which comes back to the issues of sovereignty and self determination

    What “extensive powers”?

    The issue here is that there has been an extensive campaign in certain parts of the media to go on and on about the EU as if it is some huge domineering power which has malicious intent towards us. If that’s what you think the EU is, because that’s what you read about it, of course you will be against it.

    But if the EU really was this sort of thing, wouldn’t people be able to state a list of things it is doing which they personally feel as having a restricting influence on them? I think if you were to ask people to give such a list they would not be able to. There is just this vague feeling, which has been whipped up by the press, that it is a “bad thing”. You might get the odd “straight banana” comment, but in most cases these come from press reports in which something has been twisted or taken out of context or it isn’t even an EU thing. That is what I am getting at – if the EU was really this thing you say people are against, Roland, wouldn’t they be able to give from first hand experience examples of things it is doing which have a direct impact on their lives?

    If you look at what those who are going on about the EU on the basis of some knowledge about it are giving as actions from it they don’t like, the prime one seems to be the Working Time Directive. Now, do people in this country REALLY feel oppressed by a directive which “gives workers the right to a minimum number of holidays each year, rest breaks, and rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week”? Or do the people of this country REALLY feel oppressed by a directive to limit the bonuses of bankers? I don’t think so. I think this sort of thing is the REAL reason why anti-EU hysteria is being whipped up, but the whippers up fool the people to their side by just going on and on in vague terms about “Brussels having extensive powers over us” and the like, and spice it up with a few “straight bananas” tall stories.

    Then we find that if anyone tries to correct this nonsense, to suggest the EU is not as bad as it is being painted, they are accused of being starry-eyed fanatics who think everything about the EU is wonderful. It seems to be taken that there is no middle position. Eddie Sammon claims that even to mention a point of concern about the consequences of withdrawing from the EU is “sounding more like representatives of the EU than the people”. This then leads to the position that most people in public life who are, on balance, in favour of EU membership are afraid to say things in its favour for fear of this sort of accusation, which leads to what we see in the opinion polls, because all ordinary people hear is the anti case.

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Oct '13 - 6:53am

    Eddie Sammon

    There are plenty of left-wing criticisms of the EU

    Yes, I remember the days when the Labour Party was officially anti-EU. They used to say that the UK was a naturally socialist country, and the EU was acting as a barrier to the sort of socialism the people of this country wanted. Now the criticism is the exact reverse of this, and bien pensants tell us that Britain is naturally a nation which abhors socialism and naturally wants free market economics of a sort too extreme for the rest of Europe.

    That the line has so changed in this way indicates how much this country has been caught in a stranglehold by these free market fanatics, and how they have this Orwellian mindset which means they will even go as far as rewriting history in order to brainwash people into thinking their way.

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Oct '13 - 8:03am

    Hi Matthew, I don’t have many comments to make on this blog-post over the level of free-marketism in society, I just want to address this quote of yours:

    ” Eddie Sammon claims that even to mention a point of concern about the consequences of withdrawing from the EU is “sounding more like representatives of the EU than the people”.”

    I think the Lib Dems do more than mention “a point of concern” – I would not have made my comment if I felt we just mentioned the occasional point about the negatives of withdrawing from Europe.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Oct '13 - 9:57am

    @ Denis – “Simply rubbishing his warning is both puerile and very dangerous. Our Party must fight all out for retaining our place in the EU.”

    At. What. Price?

  • @Matthew Huntbach, – it is true that people pick out the bits that most closely conform to what they want to think anyway (perhaps Christianity is similar too?) My main point is that it is an individual philosophy, not a political one so it would never be a good shorthand for any kind of political position (in the same way as “Christianity” may influence one’s politics but it is not a good shorthand for a particular set of positions). The second paragraph of my post on the Miriam article a couple of days ago (basically “Don’t worry about how other people classify you.”) is a lot more core to Ayn Rand than anything more directly political.

  • jedibeeftrix 13th Oct '13 - 10:52am

    @ Matthew – “That is what I am getting at – if the EU was really this thing you say people are against, Roland, wouldn’t they be able to give from first hand experience examples of things it is doing which have a direct impact on their lives?”

    No, rather they might look at the natural consequences of existing integration (the eurozone perhaps), and realise that it will require a level of fiscal and political integration that renders national sovereignty meaningless (common tax raising and spending powers).

    Now, while the majority might not be able to quote their gladstone you can be damn sure they understand the basic principle:

    “The finance of the country is intimately associated with the liberties of the country. It is a powerful leverage by which English Liberty has been gradually acquired … It lies at the root of English Liberty, and if the House of Commons can by any possibility lose the power of the control of the grants of public money, depend upon it, your very liberty will be worth very little in comparison …That power can never be wrenched out of your hands… That powerful leverage has been what is commonly known as the power of the purse – the control of the House of Commons over public expenditure – your main guarantee for purity – the root of English liberty. No violence, no tyranny, whether of experiments or of such methods as are likely to be made in this country, could ever for a moment have a chance of prevailing against the energies of that great assembly. No, if these powers of the House of Commons come to be encroached upon, it will be by tacit and insidious methods, and therefore I say that public attention should be called to this.”

    But then again, who can hold it against them if they can’t quote the big guy verbatim, even if lib-dem members could they don’t seem to care about or understand the importance of the message!

    They might conclude therefore, that ceaseless protestations that ever-closer-union does not mean the effective end of their sovereign nation-state, to be mendacious lies by unprincipled scallywags for whom a federal europe is needed whatever the will of everyone else.

  • To be honest there is little that’s liberal or democratic about the EU.

  • David – I think you have to do a bit more coming on here than making a tabloid-like assertion that “there is little liberal or democratic about the EU”. It is founded on principles of liberalism and democracy. If you wish to say it has moved away from those principles (or perhaps never genuinely embraced them) you’d better tell us why you think that!

  • John Roffey 13th Oct '13 - 9:39pm

    @ Martin Lowe

    For most of the time those wishing to leave the EU exceed those that don’t by around 10%. Sometimes when Cameron or his allies imply that they are going to repatriate powers from the EU back to the UK the gap narrows – in fact staying in becomes more popular for brief periods.

    Unfortunately for those hoping that a referendum will provide a vote to ‘stay in’ – once it is realised that the EU has no intention of returning any real power – the gap widens again.

    No doubt the CBI will be brought in to terrify the voters with scare stories about loss of jobs if we leave – this might work.

    Just a point on UKIP – its primary popularity is its policy to halt immigration for 5 years, not leaving the EU. Immigration being a far more important issue to voters. However, immigration cannot be controlled whilst we are in the EU.

  • @jedibeeftrix

    Sorry for delay, Jedi, I was elsewhere and have just seen your link to the Barroso comments a year ago. It is clear that he is saying that those countries in the Eurozone must accept a greater degree of “federation”. His main thrust was “A single currency depends on the solidity, on the credibility of the institutions and the political construct behind it. So, I believe [a federation] is going to happen.” But this emphasises the preferential position enjoyed by the UK within the EU. We should be grateful to John Major for achieving the opt-out from the euro and to Gordon Brown for maintaining this. It means.that we have all the benefits of full participation in the single market and full involvement in the crucial international agreements on environmental and other issues without the constrictions of the common currency. This may not be allowed to go on for ever but I think the power of the UK and its importance to the EU will avoid any “join the euorozone or quit” ultimatum. It will always be our choice.

    And please (.John Roffey) lets stop the nonsense about ” scare stories about loss of jobs if we leave”. I happen to believe that we will lose a very large number of jobs if we leave the EU. I also believe the Pope is Catholic and bears have nasty habits in wooded areas.

  • Oh look another company that’s been tapped by “New Business for Europe” the PRO-EU propaganda organisation with doom a gloom stories if Britain leaves.

    Fact 1 – Nissan sell far more cars to Britain than Europe (Britain is its No1 Market in Europe) while European sales have dropped 35% in the last 10 years.
    Fact 2 – The vast majority of Nissan’s cars made in Britain go outside Europe & are exported across the world so are not dependent on being an EU member.
    Fact 3 – World trade rules & the Lisbon Treaty would prevent the EU from imposing any import tariffs if Britain leaves so trade will not be affected.
    Fact 4 – Britain upon leaving would be the EU’s largest trading partner bigger than the US & China & the No1 destination for its goods so any talk of tariffs by the EU is just pure fantasy.

  • @tony a

    This idea that the UK can leave the EU and then simply carry on as if we were in the EU because we are “the EU’s largest trading partner” is cloud cuckoo land. The Lisbon Treaty merely allows fore negotiations to take place without specifying the outcome of those negotiations. Not only Japanese companies but many others such as German, Korean and Chinese companies are going to be thrown into doubt and confusion by any move to exit the EU and have no doubt about it – other EU countries will take full advantage of this situation to up the ante in tempting these companies into their solidly EU stable. Oh and there is the little matter of the mega – deal currently being negotiated between the EU and USA.

    Get real!

  • If we left the EU and the EU were daft enough to charge extra duty on cars imported from UK then the same rate should be applied to all the Peugeot, Renault, Mercedes, etc etc that are made in the France Germany Spain etc and imported into UK. They would be by far the losers.
    Perhaps then we would all buy more cars and lorries etc made in Britain and the army, royal mail etc would by British Made instead of German/French.

  • David Tough 11th Feb '14 - 5:36pm

    We must all fight this nasty xenophobic attitude towards Europe .We are a European country get over it

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