Boris Johnson on no-deal Brexit, Nissan, and pledge that the North East will 'bounce back' in 2021

insists the North East can “bounce back very, very strongly” from the devastating impact of and a no-deal Brexit.

The region is expected to be hardest hit by a failure to agree a trade deal with the EU by Sunday’s deadline, with studies having shown it could shrink the area’s economy by more than 10% – £7bn a year by 2034.

Mr Johnson has said there is a strong possibility no agreement will be reached and accused EU leaders of being “a little bit unreasonable, more than a little bit”.

During a visit to Blyth on Friday, the Prime Minister promised that the Government would back the North East’s economic recovery – and praised newly-revealed plans to create 8,000 jobs in the town with a £2.6bn electric car battery ‘gigaplant’.

Mr Johnson also pledged Government support for wind farms like Dogger Bank during his tour of the National Renewable Energy Centre, and said the ministers would back the “transformational” reopening of disused railway lines to improve.

Plans are in the works to bring back passenger trains to the railway line connecting Newcastle with Blyth and Ashington, while a reopening of the disused Leamside line is also part of local leaders’ £6bn vision to overhaul the North East’s transport infrastructure.

The PM, whose visit came almost a year to the day since the Tories won Blyth Valley and a string of other North East seats from Labour at the general election, said: “The North East, don’t forget, is already the biggest net exporting region in the whole UK and has an amazing future whatever trading arrangements we have with the EU.

“The Government is going to be talking to all firms in the North East and across the country about what we need to do to get ready for January 1, but I think there is a big opportunity for companies to think not just in European terms, where our markets will still remain open to our European friends, but also to think more globally.

“What I see here in the North East is a part of the country that has had a knock from Covid, as we all have, but can bounce back very, very strongly.

“What we are going to do is continue with our agenda of uniting and levelling up. Things like supporting wind farms, supporting gigafactories, or indeed supporting the reversal of the Beeching cuts for railways I think can make a huge difference to people’s opportunities and people’s lives.

“The ability to commute in an affordable way to a place where a job is likely to be created can be absolutely transformational for people’s lives.

“So I am full of confidence about the North East and the whole country next year.”

Car manufacturer Nissan has warned that a no deal Brexit would make its Sunderland plant unviable, which would deal a colossal blow to the North East economy and the 7,000 workers employed at the site.

Asked about the impact on Nissan and its staff, Mr Johnson said: “Let’s see where we get to and the terms on which we can trade. Our EU friends are being a little bit unreasonable, more than a little bit, in saying that they want to keep us locked in to their legal way of doing things.

“They say that if they change their laws we have to change ours or else we get a tariff, a financial sanction of some kind. We don’t think that is sensible, we want people to be able to do their own thing.

“They are also being very tough on the UK’s ability to control its own fisheries. We are a way off where we need to be at the moment, but we are still at it.

“So I would say to workers across the whole of the North East that this is an area that has got an amazing future under any view and the UK Government is going to support it with our levelling up agenda whatever happens.”

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