A group of protestors opposing a no-deal Brexit have gathered outside the Houses of Parliament demanding ministers extend the transition period in order to save the economy.
The demonstrators, who travelled from North East England, warned that leaving EU trade talks without a deal would ‘decimate’ their region’s economy.
The group have protested at the Nissan Plant in Sunderland over the past fortnight after the car maker’s CEO signalled the manufacturing hub would likely close in the event of a no-deal Brexit, sinking up to 7,000 jobs.
Prior to the lockdown, the North East had the highest unemployment rate in the UK and latest research from Confederation of British Industry says it will be the worst area affected by the virus with a wave of job losses expected in the coming weeks and months as furlough ends, the group claims.
They now fear those woes will be compounded by Brexit.
‘As someone who grew up around the corner from the Nissan factory in Sunderland, I know just how important it is to the region. With the news that the plant is not sustainable in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is beyond comprehension that this government are not going to ask for an extension to the transition period,’ spokesperson Louise Brown said.
‘This increases the risk of a no deal Brexit and thus Nissan leaving our region, taking its 7,000 jobs with it and thousands more if you include the supply chain. Whichever way you voted in the EU referendum; it was probably not for this scenario.
‘In the middle of a pandemic and economic and jobs crisis, it is utter madness not to extend to prevent such a no-deal scenario.’
She added: ‘We are fighting for ourselves, our family’s friends and wider communities – our voice must be heard.’
Peter Benson, an organiser of the rally outside parliament, said that government estimates suggest a 16% decline in the North East’s economy in the event of a no deal scenario.
‘That’s close to ten Nissan plants closing,’ he said. ‘With that prospect looming at the end of the year when the national and local economy will be in a very weak state, it’s total madness to plunge the UK into a very deep and extended recession.
‘With so much regional and demographic inequality the need to for a sustained economic recovery is needed now more than ever’.
Protestors will remain outside Westminster as MPs arrive for PMQs and will remain until 4pm, where they can be seen holding banners like ‘No Deal = No Nissan’, ‘Don’t Drive Nissan Away’, and ‘Auf Wiedersehen Plant’.