A top executive at Japanese car giant Nissan has warned that it would be hard to sustain its operations in the UK should the country leave the EU without a trade deal.
Speaking to Reuters, chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said: “If [the exit] happens without any sustainable business case obviously it is not a question of Sunderland or not Sunderland, obviously our UK business will not be sustainable, that’s it.”
Nissan currently employs around 7,000 people at its plant in Sunderland in the north-east, which it has been planning to expand.
But Gupta’s comments come as the EU warned the UK that it had just 10 days in which to agree a trade deal before the transition period ends on 1 January.
Throughout the negotiation process Nissan has frequently called for an “orderly balanced Brexit” to protect its commercial interests.
Unlike a number of its auto counterparts, it has remained committed to the UK, and earlier this year announced that it would spend £52m expanding the Sunderland plant to build its Qashqai model.
Any loss of jobs in the north-east due to the firm’s departure would be a blow to Boris Johnson’s election pledge to “level up” economically disadvantaged parts of the UK.
Gupta also said that despite media reports Nissan would not seek compensation from the government for costs incurred by a no-deal Brexit.
“We are absolutely not thinking that and we are not discussing it,” he said.
Under a no-deal situation, the car maker could face new tariffs on its vehicles, as well as delays in the supply of parts from overseas due to new customs checks.