My hon. Friend makes the point that I was just about to come to, about the car scrappage scheme. There was also the enterprise finance guarantee. During the downturn that was crucial in keeping people in work and keeping the plant productive. My hon. Friend has no doubt visited Nissan and will know that it is crucial for a plant to keep staff numbers up, to be able to compete and to attract contracts. Nissan is very competitive internally, and Nissan in Sunderland continues to have to compete with plants in Europe and across the world. It is crucial to maintain core staffing levels so that when contracts come up internally, we can bid for them in Sunderland. The car scrappage scheme was crucial in making sure that we kept people in work at the plant and in the supply chain.
Ministers cannot afford to be complacent about the degree of success we have been enjoying and about ensuring that it is maintained. Continued success is not inevitable. A constant concern that is raised with me is that talk of Britain leaving the European Union and all that would follow from it creates massive risk and uncertainty about investment in Nissan. Nissan has rightly warned against that and Government Members should be mindful of the fact that continuing to engage in a Back-Bench debate about the future of Britain in the EU could have damaging consequences for areas such as mine, which rely so heavily on our ability to export to Europe.
A report published just yesterday outlined that the north-east and the midlands would be hardest hit by Britain leaving the European Union. That is no doubt linked to the automotive industry in both regions and our ability to export to that single market.