You can read Sharon's latest Echo Column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
I can’t imagine many people in the region missed the news coming from Nissan last week, and rightly so.
This three-headline announcement has the potential to transform our country’s automotive industry and is an incredible vote of confidence in our region’s world-class workforce.
Firstly, Sunderland will move full throttle towards its aim of being a carbon-free city by 2040, providing green jobs and clean energy with the construction of a ‘microgrid’.
This microgrid will then power a Gigafactory, which will be producing batteries for electric vehicles as we race towards the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars.
And finally, to match the increasing demand for electric vehicles, Nissan have announced their next electric model will be built in Sunderland.
This collaboration between Nissan, AESC Envision, and Sunderland City Council, with support from the Government, is a result of incredible hard work.
But let’s not forget, the automotive industry was pushed to a cliff edge last year awaiting Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal which came through at the very last minute.
The deal emphasised the necessity for a domestic battery-manufacturing industry which for years has been highlighted by Nissan, local stakeholders and in Parliament by myself and colleagues, in order to meet the 2030 electrification goal and the moving goalposts of the UK-EU trade deal.
The Gigafactory commitment is therefore a massive sigh of relief for us all, and will pioneer the way ahead for British batteries.
The Sunderland plant has truly been certified as the jewel in the Nissan crown, with our region reaping the economic and employment rewards. In the North East, we all know people employed by Nissan or its supply chain, so we should all be very proud that their hard work has brought us here.
I will continue to showcase our automotive superpower in Parliament; a job that will be significantly easier after last week’s announcement.
Following today's statement by Nissan (01.07.21) please see below Sharon's statement:
"I am thrilled with Nissan’s announcements which have the potential to transform car-making in the UK.
"Nissan’s confidence to make their next electric vehicle model in Sunderland is testament to the incredible skill of our region’s world-class workforce, and certifies the Sunderland plant’s position as the jewel in the Nissan crown.
"Having worked closely with Nissan to raise in Parliament the necessity of investment in battery technology for the long-term success of operations, I am delighted to see firm commitment with the announcement of a local Gigafactory.
"This is a massive sigh of relief for us all and will help the UK as we move through complex trading arrangements towards the 2030 electrification goal, as well as bringing a further 6,200 high quality jobs across the whole supply chain.
"I will continue to work closely with Nissan to help build and support a localised supply chain for components, so that tariff-free trade can continue in the coming years.
"This announcement is also testament to Sunderland City Council’s dedication to becoming a city of the future, providing green energy, green jobs and green investment.
"This collaboration between Sunderland Council, Nissan, Envision AESC with support from the Government will ensure that Nissan stays on the map as a global automotive superpower, with our region reaping the rewards.
"The North-East fuelled the industrial revolution with coal, and 200 years later we are taking a leading role in the development of the green revolution with our automotive giant - we should all be very proud."
Sharon has today (30th December 2020) raised in Parliament the importance of Nissan to the North East and called on the Government to help build and support a local supply chain, so that tariff-free trade can continue in the coming years.
During her speech, Sharon said:
“Nissan in my constituency is the largest Nissan Plant in Europe, proving the North East’s worth to the world's automotive industry and it must continue to be so in the post-Brexit world.”
Sharon also called on the Government to invest in a local battery supply chain, so that the UK automotive industry can meet the Rules of Origin criteria set by the deal, by 2024, so that tariff-free trade can continue.
After the debate, Sharon said:
“Sunderland voted to leave and I know that my constituents will be pleased that a Deal has been achieved and successfully voted on in the Commons.
“The Deal is by no means a perfect one, but it can be built upon in the future.
“My priority now is championing the North East and ensuring that our area benefits from investment by battery manufacturers in the coming years so that the UK automotive industry can continue to thrive, without trade tariffs or barriers.”
Sharon voted in favour of the trade deal with the EU, saying it was “in the national interest to do so”.
The deal passed in the House of Commons by 521 to 73.
You can watch Sharon’s speech on Facebook here >
22% of the workforce in Washington and Sunderland West constituency work in the automotive industry. Accounting for 10,000 jobs, that makes Sharon Hodgson MP’s constituency the Parliamentary seat with the highest proportion of automotive jobs in the country.
These figures come as Labour call for Government action to protect the UK’s world leading automotive sector, as the impact of coronavirus threatens jobs and businesses in the sector.
The automotive sector has been one of the worst affected by coronavirus, with production down an astonishing 99.7% in April.
Without urgent action, the Conservative Government risks turning its back on communities and workers in seats they promised to protect across the North, Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales where three in four automotive jobs are found.
Labour is calling for targeted support for the industry and its supply chain. It is urging the Government to explore the possibility of fast tracking measures from the Automotive Sector Deal or Road to Zero strategy, with a focus on creating green jobs and ensuring the UK leads the way in the decarbonisation challenge at the pace and scale the climate emergency demands.
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“I’m proud to represent the constituency with, proportionally, the most automotive jobs in the country.
“The automotive industry is a valuable employer across the country and the Government must do more to support the sector and protect workers.
“I’ll continue to work with those in the automotive sector, Trade Unions and workers to campaign to protect our constituency’s biggest employers.”
Lucy Powell, Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said:
“The UK’s world-leading automotive industry has been rocked by coronavirus and livelihoods are on the line. But Ministers won’t listen to reason and are refusing to recognise some sectors have been hit harder than others.
“They must urgently target support at the sectors that need it with a focus on creating skilled, green jobs - and do right by the communities across the UK they promised to protect.
“Anything less would be a betrayal of many communities which helped get Boris Johnson elected.”
Sharon has received a response to her letter to the Prime Minister regarding Nissan and Coronavirus, from Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister for Business and Industry.
You can read the letter by clicking on the image above
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington & Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health has today written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding Nissan UK's decision to suspend work at the plant in Sunderland.
Click on image to download letter
A No-Deal Brexit would be a terrible outcome. No matter how people voted in 2016, no one voted for the disruption and economic damage that a No Deal could do.
Leaving the EU without a deal is something I will continue to firmly oppose. No Member of Parliament should be willing to let something with such considerable risks to the economy, our Public Services and vulnerable people in our society, happen and I don’t intend to do so.
Below are the ways in which I have been opposing No Deal and the Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit.
I challenged the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP to provide assurances for the UK automotive industry, after Nissan’s decision not to build the X-Trail model in Sunderland as planned.
After Nissan took the decision to make the new X-Trail model in Japan rather than in Sunderland, I wrote to the then Prime Minister Theresa May outlining my concerns. In that letter I warned of the potential catastrophic impacts of a No-Deal Brexit on Nissan.
You can read my letter here.
Just 38 days before the UK was due to leave the EU, I asked Greg Clark MP when businesses such as Nissan could expect to have clarity on what trading arrangements would be in place.
In March, with just 15 sitting Parliamentary days until we were due to leave the EU, I spoke to BBC Newcastle about the risks that a No-Deal Brexit posed and the amount of work that was being done by Parliament and companies to prepare for No Deal.
You can listen to the clip on Twitter here.
I also secured a Westminster Hall debate on the risks that a No-Deal Brexit posed to Public Sector catering, which some of the most vulnerable people in our society rely upon.
After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, I used his first statement to the Commons to ask him to rule out leaving the EU without a deal due to the impact it could have on the automotive industry.
I am extremely worried about the impact that a No-Deal could have on the worst off in our society, so I’ve been calling on the Government to introduce a Hardship Fund in the event we do leave without a deal.
You can read my article in the HuffPost about this here.
Sharon Hodgson MP raised concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenged the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Twitter here
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Parliament TV here
Sharon's Question can be read here
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health used the new Prime Minister’s first statement in the House of Commons to raise concerns around Nissan’s announcement this morning that 12,500 jobs will be lost worldwide.
She also challenged Boris Johnson to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
The Automotive Industry in the UK is undoubtedly going through a challenging period, and by far the greatest threat to its continued competitiveness is a No Deal exit from the European Union (EU).
‘Like many people I was hugely worried by Nissan’s announcement this morning. At this stage there is little indication that any job cuts will be made at the Sunderland plant, but I will be monitoring the situation extremely closely and maintaining contact with both Unite Officials, and Nissan.
I’m glad Boris committed to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy and I look forward to seeing that in practice.
When it comes to Brexit, a No Deal exit from the European Union poses an existential threat to the continued success of the automotive industry in the UK.
It is frightening that we now have a Prime Minister who believes he knows more than the industry itself when it comes to the challenges that a No Deal would present. I will continue to challenge No Deal at every available opportunity, and hold this new Prime Minister to account.’
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health has finally received a response to her letter to the Prime Minister, sent 6th February 2019.
Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Business and Industry, replied on 22nd February 2019. A copy of that letter can be viewed here:
Click on the image above to download the letter.
Unfortunately the Minister is unable to provide any further information regarding what our trading arrangements will be when we leave the European Union (EU) and refused to rule out a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit, which would be hugely damaging.
There are just 29 days until we are due to leave the EU, and businesses such as Nissan still have no clarity about what customs arrangements will be in place the day after.
In the letter, the Minister urges Sharon to vote for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, but we still don’t know what exactly that will be when it comes back to Parliament. It’s been 95 days – more than three months – since the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration were agreed and thus far no changes have been agreed with the EU.
‘’It is hugely concerning that a Government Minister is unable to provide any more clarity on what our trading arrangements will be once we have left the EU in just 29 days’ time.
Businesses such as Nissan are absolute desperate for some certainty over Brexit, and the Government’s ongoing inability to provide it is hugely damaging.
Although there is also no confirmation that ‘No-Deal’ will be taken off the table in this letter, I am glad that Parliament will now have the chance to vote against it. The Government should urgently confirm that when that vote happens, they will be voting against leaving the EU without a deal, which would be disastrous for the country and our region.’’