If Nissan can get its own soft Brexit deal, so can Scotland, says Russell

Nissans Qashqai production line at Sunderland. Picture: Getty
Nissans Qashqai production line at Sunderland. Picture: Getty
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Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell has today urged the UK government to make a full disclosure of the deal it forged with Nissan to keep its plant in the North East of England.

Russell claimed the agreement was “hugely significant concession” by UK ministers because it showed they were open to the idea of a “flexible” Brexit.

Last week Scottish Secretary David Mundell said there would be no “special deal” for Scotland, but suggested the UK-wide withdrawal would be flexible enough to address different demands.

The impact of Brexit on industry also came to a head last week when it emerged UK ministers gave a written promise to Nissan to protect it from the consequences of EU withdrawal.

The promise was made to ensure that the car maker continued its investment in Sunderland thus securing thousands of jobs.

It was reported that the UK government pledged unconditional investment aid and further relief if EU withdrawal harmed the plant’s perfomance.

Russell said: “We welcome any commitment to safeguard jobs but we know from economists that the hard Brexit which the Tories now appear to favour could cost 80,000 jobs in Scotland within a decade.

“We need urgent clarity on the Nissan deal because the Prime Minister and her colleagues now have to provide answers to some basic questions.

“We are told that no financial compensation or offer was involved, but it has also been reported that Nissan were given a written promise by the UK government – what was that promise, what is the precise nature of the agreement and will it involve public money at any point in the future?”

 Russell added:”At the same time, the Nissan deal is a hugely significant concession by the UK government because it shows they are open to the principle of a ‘flexible Brexit’.

“David Mundell told Holyrood that there would be no special deal for Scotland – but he has been undermined by Theresa May’s actions over the Nissan deal.

“It can’t be right for the UK government to conclude backroom deals with some specific companies – including in areas which voted strongly to leave Europe – while pursuing a course of action that will cost thousands of Scottish jobs.

“That is why the Scottish Government is working to build a coalition to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK inside the single market. In the next few weeks the Scottish Government will publish plans to retain Scotland’s single market membership even if the rest of the UK leaves. That is in the only way to ensure Scottish businesses will not face trade barriers to a market of 500 million people – and to guard against thousands of Scots job losses.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “Nissan’s investment is fantastic news and a vote of confidence in the UK. We want to see a competitive environment for all types of businesses, right across the UK, as we make sure we get the best deal for all parts of the country in our negotiations to leave the EU.”