Government, Nissan and opposition politicians give their views on the alleged deal that benefits The Sunderland Plant.
New Qashqai and X-Trail to be built in UK
The Government and Nissan have denied suggestions that the company's decision to increase investment at its Sunderland Plant was influenced by a deal that protects it from possible, post-Brexit, tariffs. Nissan recently confirmed that a New Qashqai and New X-Trail will be manufactured at the facility in the north-east.
Nissan released a statement to this effect which caused some observers to speculate that special terms were agreed. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, said that “support and assurances” from the Government enabled the manufacturer “to decide” to produce its forthcoming models via The Sunderland Plant.
No financial compensation
The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, subsequently clarified his position. He told BBC Radio 4's World At 1: "There is no question of financial compensation over tariffs.” As for Brexit negotiations, he added: “We are going to maintain the competitiveness of the sector” and secure “the best deal possible.”
Colin Lawther, Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing in Europe, also denied the existence of a deal. He said: "There's nothing. There's no special deal for Nissan. We are working within the whole of the automotive industry. We would expect nothing for us that the rest of the industry wouldn't be able to have access to."
Labour Party perspective
Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested if there is a deal its terms should be public. He argued: “It is public money that will be used if there are any inducements.” He added: ”If you are offering big inducements to one industry or one manufacturer, then all the others will quite reasonably say 'well ... what about us?'"
Furthermore, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell warned that "secret deals behind closed doors" can undermine business confidence. He said: "It's utterly chaotic at the moment. We have got a situation where we get leaks and rumours. Are they now going to decide, literally, factory by factory the support they are going to give?"
Prime Minister welcomes manufacturer investment
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, welcomed the manufacturer’s decision to commit to The Sunderland Plant. She said: “This is fantastic news for the UK. Nissan is at the heart of this country’s strong automotive industry, so I welcome their decision to produce the Qashqai and a new model at their Sunderland plant.”
Mrs May continued: “It is a recognition that the Government is committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for the automotive industry so it continues to grow (both) now and in the future. This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business and that we remain an outward looking, world leading, nation.”