Sunday 22 January 2017

UK denies giving Nissan special deal

Shaun Connolly

Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30

Staff inspect the finish on a Qashqai model in the paint shop at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Staff inspect the finish on a Qashqai model in the paint shop at Nissan’s plant in Sunderland. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The British government has denied offering a 'sweetheart deal' to Nissan after the car maker gave a vote of confidence to Brexit by expanding production at its Sunderland plant.

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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.

"There is no compensation package," said a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May. "What we have made clear to Nissan and to others in the industry is that what we want is a competitive environment for the whole of the industry."

Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, Colin Lawther, denied there was a special deal for the company. "No, there is no offer of exchange. It's just the commitment from the government to work with the whole of the automotive industry to make sure that the whole automotive industry in the UK remains competitive," he said.

Building the X-Trail in Sunderland is an unexpected boost for the factory.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who went to Downing Street earlier this month for crunch talks with Mrs May, said yesterday that the manufacturer could make the production decision owing to "support and assurances" from the government.

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".

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