Nissan’s announcement that it will build the new Qashqai in Sunderland is a boost to Brexit Britain. If the decision had gone the other way, critics would have been quick to claim this was proof that Brexit was going to total the British car industry and that the people of Sunderland had self-harmed when they voted to leave. But Nissan has decided to not only build the new Qashqai in Sunderland—as we reported it would on Saturday—but also the X-Trail SUV.
Theresa May has been straight out of the traps to hail the decision as a ‘vote of confidence’ that ‘shows Britain is an outward looking, world leading nation’. This is probably the most important industrial announcement post Brexit as it secures the future of a plant that produces more cars than the whole of Italy.
Huge credit for the deal should go to the Business Secretary Greg Clark who flew to Japan to see Nissan last week. Clark will hope that he can be as successful with Hitachi and other Japanese firms concerned about Brexit.
The Government won’t say whether it offered to compensate Nissan if the EU imposed tariffs on British-made cars, post-Brexit. But as I wrote on Saturday, the Government is sufficiently sure that there won’t be tariffs that it could, in the words of one well-placed source, make ‘robust assurances, but be fully confident they won’t be called in’.