May Confirms Commitment to Northern Ireland in Brexit Plan


Nissan said investment for next-generation models is unaffected by the decision to cancel the X-Trail.

In October 2016, Nissan said it would build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant, following government "support and assurances".

The Business Secretary Greg Clark was on Monday night facing criticism after it emerged that he offered Nissan an £80million Brexit sweetener despite previously insisting there had been "no chequebook" involved in the deal.

Auto maker Nissan has scrapped plans to build its new X-Trail 4x4 in Britain, saying it had taken the decision to consolidate production in Japan and warning two months before Brexit that uncertainty was making it harder to plan for the future.

But the letter, which the government refused to publish on multiple occasions, had prompted accusations that ministers were doing secretive deals with firms, prompting some Brexiteers to question whether pledges made might keep the United Kingdom tied to EU mechanisms such as the customs union.

"The government fully recognizes the significance of the European Union market to your presence in Sunderland", wrote business minister Greg Clark to then-CEO of Nissan Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan's X-Trail will not be built at the company's plant in England due to "uncertainties" surrounding Brexit.

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Nissan is the UK's biggest vehicle plant, employing 7,000 people, with a further 30,000 jobs in its United Kingdom supply chain and 4,000 in its United Kingdom dealer network, taking the total number of British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000. The company also said it is increasing spending on new powertrains for future European vehicles.

On Feb. 1, an EU-Japan free trade agreement also kicked in, which includes the EU's commitment to removing tariffs of 10 percent on imported Japanese cars, diminishing part of the business case for building in Europe.

Not long ago the automotive industry was the darling of a renaissance in British manufacturing, with David Cameron and George Osborne frequently found opening plants or assembly lines while in government.

Following the announcement, Clark said it would be "a blow to the (country's automotive) sector and the region".

"Our workforce in Sunderland has our full confidence, and will continue to benefit from the investment planned for Juke and Qashqai", de Ficchy said.

Jeremy Corbyn has already held talks with Theresa May over the Brexit deal but shows no sign of backing it unless she pivots towards a customs union with the EU.