Nissan and the Government have denied that a special “sweetheart deal” protecting the manufacturer from any post-Brexit EU tariff wall was behind the company’s move to boost production at its Sunderland car plant.
The Japanese giant’s decision to build its next-generation Qashqai, and add production of the new X-Trail model, at the site has eased concerns about the future of the North East factory after the UK quits the EU.
The news, which will secure thousands of jobs, is the first major UK automotive decision since the Brexit vote in June.
Pressed on whether written assurances on compensation for any future EU tariffs had been given, Business Secretary Greg Clark told the BBC: “We have had, obviously, as you might imagine, lots of communication between us, but actually, what it rests on is a very strong mutual confidence. There is no question of financial compensation over tariffs.”
Colin Lawther, Nissan’s senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, denied there was a special deal for the company. “No, there is no offer of exchange. It’s just the commitment form the Government to work with the whole of the automotive industry to make sure that the whole automotive industry in the UK remains competitive.”
Keeping Nissan in the UK was regarded as vital to Mrs May’s hopes for a successful Brexit.
She described the announcement as “fantastic news for the UK” and said “families across the North East will be delighted”.
The Sunderland plant, which has been active since 1986, employs almost 7,000 people, producing around 2,000 cars a day.