LIVE: North East reaction to Brexit

The UK has voted to leave the European Union.

The UK has voted to leave the European Union.

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Politicians, business leaders and other campaign groups are reacting to Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

12.30pm: Nissan has refused to comment on what today’s EU referendum means for the future of its Sunderland plant, writes Sue Kirby.

The car giant - which employs 8,000 people in the UK across its Sunderland factory, Cranfield engineering centre and Paddington design base, and supports a further 32,000 jobs nationwide indirectly through dealerships and its supply chain - has made no secret of the fact it favoured an ‘In’ vote, even though it did not actively campaign for one.

A spokeswoman said this morning: “We will not be commenting at this time.”

But Nissan said in February it believed it made ‘the most sense for jobs, trade and costs’ for the UK to stay within Europe.

Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said then: “We are a global business with a strong presence in Europe.

“We have a rich heritage in the UK, with 30 years of manufacturing and engineering presence, and remain committed to building and engineering cars in the country. Last year we produced more than 475,000 vehicles in the UK – 80 per cent of which are exported.

“Our preference as a business is, of course, that the UK stays within Europe – it makes the most sense for jobs, trade and costs. For us, a position of stability is more positive than a collection of unknowns.

“While we remain committed to our existing investment decisions, we will not speculate on the outcome nor what would happen in either scenario.

“We obviously want the Nissan UK plant and engineering centre to remain as competitive as possible when compared with other global entities, and each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case by case basis, just as it is now.”

Ukip MEP Diane James said the large win for leave in Sunderland could be down to anger over Nissan writing to employees to make clear the company would prefer Britain to stay in the EU.

She told BBC News: “Nissan, I believe, was one of those companies that was effectively asked by the Prime Minister to write a letter to the employees and I think what you’re seeing here is the reaction to that, which I understand has been quite widespread across the country where people have actually taken offence at being directed to do something and then seemingly that whole message has been undermined in the later stage.”

Noon: Geoff White, RICS Policy Manager, North & Midlands, said: “Uncertainty over the renegotiation and the North East’s future relationship with the EU must be minimised by laying out a clear timeline and set of ambitions. The Chancellor’s proposed ‘Brexit Budget’ must be careful to reassure the region’s property markets.

“There are questions around the impact on access to a skilled workforce to meet the North East’s construction and infrastructure needs. We need reassurance that workforce migration will be addressed as a priority and it must not be allowed to impact on the attractiveness of the North East for investment, or as a place where major corporate and industrial occupiers want to do business.

“Given their role in the economy, property and construction require stability, clarity and certainty. Regardless of our relationship with the EU we need to ensure that investment into the North East’s property markets and infrastructure continues. While Whitehall focuses energies into the exit negotiation, the North East must meet the housing supply and infrastructure challenges it continues to face. Projects or property transactions which were delayed, shelved or postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding the referendum must be given the confidence and security to begin to move again.”

11.30am: Independent North East Mayoral Candidate Jeremy Middleton said: “Now more than ever the North East needs a strong voice and the Government must ensure that our Brexit deal works for us. It must confirm that it will replace every penny of EU funding the region loses by implementing a UK regional aid policy. The new era will need to embrace comprehensive free trade deals that benefit our region’s manufacturing exporters, we know they have the capability to thrive wherever the markets are.”

10.45am: Robyn Peat, managing partner at land, property and business consultants George F White, said: “I am genuinely shocked that the majority of UK citizens have voted to leave the European Union (EU). In my opinion, our nation’s future, both short and long term is now unknown and uncertain. We don’t know anything about the political, financial, economic and social environment that we now reside in because we now, following this result, have to negotiate it. No matter how much those celebrating the result are saying that today marks the day where the UK has achieved greater independence, I firmly believe that, as we are now no longer a part of the EU, we are not sovereign. Now the hard work starts and everyone has a role to negotiate and lobby for the best opportunities nationally and across the world for individuals and corporations alike. Let’s make our voice heard. It’s a sad day for UK politics and, indeed, the nation.”

10am: Andrew Hodgson, chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Last night the people of the North East clearly voted to leave the European Union (EU). The North East LEP is committed to improving the economic success of the North East irrespective of the political landscape. We are very aware of the many ways in which this region has benefited from being a member of the EU.

“This has included access to European trade and investment and European funding, which has helped to regenerate our towns and cities, support business growth and investment in science and support many of our rural stakeholders including farmers. We will be seeking assurances from the Government that it will help us reduce the impact of leaving the single market in terms of funding, jobs and investment.

“The North East is the only UK region with a positive balance of trade. Working with our public and private sector partners our focus must be on maintaining this status quo and supporting those who will be most affected by the decision to leave. We have a very clear Strategic Economic Plan. It is now more important than ever that our entire community commits to increasing its skills base and creating more businesses, whilst taking more local control of our choices by supporting regional devolution.”

7am: Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who campaigned for a Brexit, is ‘thrilled’ this morning after Northumberland and the country voted to leave the EU.

The first-term Conservative MP said: “It’s really exciting that across Northumberland, across the North East and across the whole country that people have voted to take back control of our great nation so we can drive it forward with that pioneering spirit as we have always done and can do again into our bright future.”

Reflecting on the fact that Northumberland voted clearly in support of leaving – by 54 per cent to 46 per cent – she added: “I’m thrilled as this referendum was about the lost voices. In Northumberland, as elsewhere, that view has been upheld very clearly. It gives me, as a Brexit politician, a clear mandate to go to London and get the best deal possible moving forward.”

And the current volatility in the financial and currency markets is an expected but not long-term problem, according to Mrs Trevelyan.

“The reality is that this major referendum was always likely to create uncertainty, that was factored in. The markets made an assumption about a remain vote which turned out not to be the case. Markets are predictably volatile when they get things wrong and I expect them to settle down in a few hours as the new political reality settles in. The outlook is for a bright future.”

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “A significant number of our members are worried about the impact of leaving. The focus for us now is to ensure these business concerns are addressed. It is vital the Government ensures minimal disruption to trade and investment as the process of change begins. We also need to see measures to reassure businesses on issues such as access to overseas talent and the future of regional funding streams.

“We have an export record which is the strongest in the whole country and this must not be compromised as the decision to leave becomes a reality. The Government must now secure the best possible ongoing relationship with Europe and the rest of the world to enable sustained business growth in our region.”

6.30am: Following the outcome of the EU Referendum this morning, the leader of Northumberland County Council has expressed serious concern for jobs and services and called on the Government to protect Northumberland from any loss of European funding and to seek clarity regarding the north east devolution deal which included making decisions locally about the allocation of EU funding.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “An estimated £108million of European investment came into Northumberland over the last nine years, helping to regenerate our towns, invest in our businesses and providing support for tourism and farmers.

“Annually £28million of funding comes in directly and indirectly which supports jobs in the county council. Services will be damaged and jobs will be lost if this Government doesn’t immediately deliver a plan to replace this now lost funding.

“There is no doubt that European funding has benefited the county significantly and we now need to take stock and, along with the Government and the rest of the country, and to mitigate against adverse implications for Northumberland.”

NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “The vote to leave the European Union will inevitably lead to a period of uncertainty in a number of areas that are of vital importance to Britain’s farmers.

“The NFU will engage fully and constructively with the British government to construct new arrangements. This needs to happen as soon as possible.

“Our members will rightly want to know the impact on their businesses as a matter of urgency. We understand that the negotiations will take some time to deliver but it is vital that there is early commitment to ensure British farming is not disadvantaged. It is vital that British farming is profitable and remains competitive, it is the bedrock of the food industry – Britain’s largest manufacturing sector.

“The NFU has called an extraordinary meeting of NFU Council, its governing body, next Friday, July 1.

“The NFU’s principles will be: To achieve the best possible access Europe’s markets, which will remain extremely important to Britain’s farmers; To get access to markets in the rest of the world, while ensuring we are protected from imports which are produced to lower standards; To ensure our farmers and growers can get the necessary supplies of labour, both seasonal and full-time; To build a British agricultural policy which is as simple as possible, adapted to our needs and guarantees parity of treatment with European farmers, who will still be our principal competitors. There must be a common framework of a British policy, while allowing a necessary degree of flexibility to devolved governments; Regulations and product approvals must be proportionate and based on risk and science.”

5am: North East UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott said: “This is a tremendous day for Britain and for our democratic process.

“The people of the North East have led the way in voting clearly for Brexit. The British people as a whole have spoken and we have regained control over our own destiny.

“Now the hard work begins: we must now deal with our European colleagues as friends and neighbours and negotiate a deal for the future which allows us to trade freely with the EU, control our borders and work together for our mutual benefit.

“I am immensely proud of everyone who worked tirelessly to achieve this referendum result. We must now be vigilant to ensure that our Government sticks to its promises and respects the result of the referendum.”

Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East, said: “It is with great disappointment and sadness that I have learned that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. I have fought long and hard for the rights of workers across Europe as a union representative and have continued that fight into the European Parliament.

“There’s been lots of anger on the doorstep about the future direction of this country and people are rightly concerned about housing, precarious work and the state of our public services. People must be listened to and I hope the government listens now. I accept that this is the democratic mandate of the British people and I call upon those responsible for our leave negotiations to now produce the best deal possible.”

Paul Brannen, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East, said: “This is not the result the Labour Party and the main trade unions were hoping for. We strongly believed that our place is within the Europe Union, working together with our neighbours for peace and prosperity.

“Many of the issues raised on the doorstep were the responsibility of the Conservative Government – not the European Union. The Government needs to listen to the understandable anger within our communities and act on housing, unemployment and inequality. Too many people in the North East feel that no one has been listening to them and this needs to change.

“I hope that those who negotiate our exit from the EU don’t forget the people of the North East but frankly I can’t see a bunch of Tories in London doing that. However, I will continue to work hard for the region as we now face a difficult and uncertain future but we are a resilient region and together we will pull through”.