Jobs secured at Nissan in Sunderland as Government steps in to support car maker

Major car manufacturer Nissan has announced significant investment in its Sunderland factory in North East England after the Government stepped in to offer support.
It had been feared that Nissan might step away from the UK because of trade fears caused by Brexit. The firm’s chief executive has been seen emerging from Downing Street in recent weeks following high level talks.
However, the car manufacturer has now confirmed that despite Britain’s divorce from Europe, it will be building its next Qashqai and X-Trail models at its Sunderland factory.
The work is set to safeguard more than 7,000 jobs and is the first big investment to be announced anywhere in the car industry since the referendum in June.
Ironically, people in Sunderland voted overwhelmingly to leave Europe, only to find that the city’s biggest employer was then considering its future there. Along with the jobs at Nissan, there are another 28,000 in the supply chain which could have been under threat.
Prime Minister Theresa May said Nissan’s decision was a stamp of confidence for the British economy.
She said: “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, now and in the future.”
However, it appears that the assurance from Nissan has come at a price. While full details have yet to emerge, Nissan said “support and assurances” from the Government had persuaded it to stay.
Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn has been talking to the Government in the months following the referendum. Following the announcement that the two new models would be UK made, he said: “Our employees there continue to make the plant a globally competitive powerhouse, producing high-quality, high-value products every day.”
This comes despite earlier comments that staying in the UK would come down to a guarantee of compensation if there was any deal during the Brexit process which led to trade tariffs being added onto car exports.
If Mrs May really has made such financial promises to offset the impact of any tariffs she could be facing two future problems, say analysts.
While Britain will no longer have to worry about falling foul of EU rules on state aid, any deal could be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules.
And, considering she seems to have offered support to Nissan, Mrs May could find herself under pressure from other car manufacturers in the UK who will expect similar assurances about what will happen following Brexit.