Mark Garnier is MP for Wyre Forest and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Trade.
The Government has made it clear that Britain will remain competitive and open for business as we leave the EU. The Government will seek the best deal for those that want to trade in goods and services with our European allies. We will continue to invest in the vital infrastructure and skills that make Britain such an attractive place to invest and create jobs, and we will seize the opportunity to become global leaders in free trade – opening up new markets as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world. As a strong campaigner for Remain, I genuinely believe in this country’s future with our new, future relationship with the EU as allies and counterparts and not a member.
These assurances are not new, they reflect everything the Prime Minister and the Government have said, particularly at party conference, and they hold true for all sectors and businesses, large and small.
The Nissan decision is great news for the people of the North East more widely, our world-class automotive sector and for the whole of the British economy. Our dialogue with Nissan shows that, underneath the heat of the political debate, the Government is getting on with the job and setting out our objectives in a sensible and measured way, providing the reassurance that business needs.
But when a business like Nissan responds to this reassurance with a vote of confidence that safeguards 7,000 jobs, the Opposition’s response ranges from outright negativity to bizarre conspiracy theories. It is baffling that Labour would want talk down the extraordinary good news won by the skilled workers in Sunderland, and workers across the country in our world-beating automobile sector. More worryingly, it leads one to question whether Labour believes in Britain’s ability to thrive outside the UK: talking the country down rather than welcoming this investment risks delivering the wrong message to those we seek to invest in the UK, putting jobs at risk for purely political self-interest.
Labour’s policies put jobs at risk. They have said they would abolish the tax incentives we give businesses for research and innovation – the very incentives that companies like Nissan cite as influencing their investment decisions. How is it possible that the self-professed party of workers would prefer jobs were lost so that they could use it as a stick to try beat the Government with? Why can’t they welcome new employment opportunities – the large majority in their own constituencies? Have they abandoned their traditional supporters in places like the North East? One would have hoped they would unreservedly welcome this announcement, rather than try to manufacture a negative story, putting jobs and investment at risk for political point scoring.
Last Thursday was a great day for Sunderland and for Britain. It is 30 years since Margaret Thatcher worked with Nissan, helping them to invest in our country. Last week’s announcement means that the next generation of working men and women can look forward to fulfilling careers. This Government will always back them to the hilt.
Leaving the EU is a big task with a lot to think about. It needs clear thinking and a positive attitude. Labour’s obsession with political point scoring will not serve our country well.