As Alan Johnson stopped off at Hitachi Rail Europe’s factory in Newton Aycliffe on Wednesday, he told Aycliffe Today that leaving the European Union would be a “one-way ticket to a bleak economic future”.
Mr Johnson – the former Home Secretary who is chair of Labour’s remain campaign – visited Aycliffe Business Park for a brief tour of Hitachi’s impressive £85m factory.
He’s heading up Labour’s Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum on 23rd June.
We asked Mr Johnson what ramifications a Brexit would have for Aycliffe – home to the North-East’s biggest business park, with 300 companies and an estimated 9,000 employees.
He told Aycliffe Today: “Don’t take it from me, take it from the Institute for Fiscal Studies – the most respected, independent financial and economic institution.
“If you don’t take it from them, take it from the Governor of the Bank of England, take it Oxford Economics, the London School of Economics, the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)… they all say the same thing, that there is a chunk of our wealth at risk here, that is anywhere between 4-6%, and there’s also a black hole – anything between £36bn and £46bn
“So in terms of jobs, prosperity and austerity… if we vote to leave, then it’s a one-way ticket to a very bleak economic future.”
Mr Johnson was joined by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, during his visit to Hitachi.
He added: “It’s absolutely amazing. Phil is rightly very proud of this, and now we can now see why he is.
“It’s high value manufacturing. Hitachi Rail Europe have set up here as a gateway to the European Union and they’re good, well paid jobs.
“This could be bigger. Hitachi wants to expand on all the land you see around us.
“The factory will be here however it goes on 23rd June, but whether Hitachi’s plans to expand it will be there, if they have to pay tariffs to send their stuff into Europe and tariffs on their stuff coming in, is very doubtful.”