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MP says Brexit could be behind decision to move some Colman's work to Germany

PUBLISHED: 16:59 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:56 05 January 2018

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Doug Faulkner

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Doug Faulkner

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A Norwich MP has suggested Brexit could be to blame for Unilever's decision to shift some Colman's work to Germany.

Unilever, which produces Norwich’s famous Colman’s Mustard, announced on Thursday the firm will close its plant in the city.

The decision will impact all 113 jobs in Norwich with around 45 expected redundancies, more than 40 roles transferring to Burton on Trent and 25 roles moving to a new milling plant in the Norwich area.

But the firm also said some of the packing work that was previously done at the Carrow Works site will transfer to an existing factory in Germany.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said the government had been “sat on its hands” while Unilever consulted with the workforce over the proposed cuts and also slammed business secretary Greg Clark for refusing to visit the city in a bid to save the jobs.

And he added the UK’s looming exit from the European Union could be behind the reason to shift some jobs to Germany.

“It’s telling that some of these jobs are going to Germany – a country with an active industrial policy,” he said. “You also wonder whether Unilever’s choice to shift some production inside the single market is connected to this government’s disastrous Brexit policy.

“With Theresa May being held hostage by fundamentalist Brexiteers in her cabinet and party, it looks like Unilever may have hedged their bets and opted to be in a country they could guarantee would be in the single market. That clearly isn’t the UK.

“To say Brexit caused these job losses is a tad simplistic. But as to it possibly being a significant factor in Unilever’s decision to relocate some production to Germany? Well I think it would be foolish to discount it entirely.

“If true we here in Norwich have paid a very heavy price. I’ll certainly be seeking answers in the coming days and weeks.”

Unilever’s vice president of supply chain Jon Strachan denied the movement of the packing work to Germany was connected to Brexit. He also added that “millions” would be spent on the new milling plant in Norwich.

A Unilever spokesman said: “The packing of dry sauces will be absorbed by existing production lines and existing employees at a Unilever factory in Germany, which already makes the dry sauce mix.”

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