Government insiders expect Nissan to announce that it is building the new Qashqai in Sunderland in the next week or so. As I write in The Sun today, the Business Secretary Greg Clark has been in Japan to see Nissan high-ups and the government is now optimistic the deal will be done.
This news will be a major relief for the government. It shows that the British car industry isn’t being written off by Brexit and given how some in Brussels seem to think that bad economic news will send this country scurrying back to the EU, will strengthen the UK’s negotiating hand. One can also just imagine how Brexit’s critics would have reacted if Nissan had announced it was moving production away from Sunderland, which voted heavily to leave, to an EU-27 location.
Insiders won’t say whether the government promised to compensate Nissan if the EU imposed tariffs on UK made cars. But one well-placed source tells me that the government is sufficiently sure that there won’t be tariffs either way that it could make ‘robust assurances, but be fully confident they won’t be called in’.
Update: A BEIS spokesperson says “Our relationship with Nissan remains very strong. We will continue to work closely with them over the coming months.
We do not provide a running commentary on our discussions with companies.”