JOBS could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal at the of the year, businesses have warned.

Japanese car maker Nissan has said any deal that worsens business conditions through increased tariffs would threaten the sustainability Sunderland plant where 7,000 people are employed.

The car maker’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, told Reuters: “If it 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.”

Stark warning impact 'no-deal' Brexit could have on North-East businesses

Prima Cheese, in Seaham, buys most its ingredients from Europe and has said tariffs would damage its business.

The cheese processing firm, which has 140 staff, has warned ‘no-deal’ could put jobs at risk as the company fears customers will not accept higher costs.

Commercial director Nagma Ebanks-Beni said: “If we see a reduction in sales it will impact jobs.”

Companies across the region have spelled out other ways they would be affected by a ‘no-deal Brexit’.

Patrick Lonergan, managing director of Patrick Lonergan Recruitment, based in Newton Aycliffe, said the Government’s visa system is not yet ready to allow either companies or candidates to comply with the new rules.

He said: “It could significantly impact businesses in the North-East, particularly those who recruit some of their workforce from abroad.

“Currently, even the changeover for tier two visas – provided to non-nationals already working within the UK but changing to a new employer – are taking up to three or four months to process.

“This means employment offers are already being put on hold due to the non-clarity of the new process and the capability of the government to process visa applications.

“This has had, and will continue to have, direct effect on business, and there is no scope to plan ahead, in particular if these candidate have niche skills to develop companies technologies.”

David Horn, director of County Durham-based CyberWhite, said ‘no-deal’, with no agreed arrangements covering data protection, leaves the UK with the prospect of being regarded as inadequate when it exits the EU.

He said: “We may be subject to stricter transfer rules as set out by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“So, the road ahead is unclear and the outcome uncertain.

“However, businesses which act in good faith, recording and justifying any changes in business processes and decisions, will be less vulnerable than those that don’t.”

The Northern Echo:

John Elliott MBE

John Elliott MBE, chairman of Ebac, said getting a deal is difficult because the UK and the EU have different aims.

He said: “The problem with the Brexit negotiations is that the EU does not want Brexit to be a success.

“The hard facts are that if the UK does well when it’s free to run its economy other countries will want to do the same.

“We all know that the EU organisation is very costly and very bureaucratic which is not good for most of us.

“Trade deals can be changed so let’s get on with it whatever it is and start the process of making the UK a better country.”