Nissan's decision to stay in the UK shows "Britain is open for business", says Theresa May

Theresa May said Nissan is at the heart of what is a very strong automotive industry
Theresa May said Nissan is at the heart of what is a very strong automotive industry (Source: Getty)

Theresa May said Nissan's decision to build new models at its Sunderland plant post-Brexit vote showed "Britain is open for business".

“This is fantastic news for the UK," said the Prime Minister. "Nissan is at the heart of this country’s strong automotive industry and so I welcome their decision to produce the Qashqai and a new model at their Sunderland plant."

“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," she added. "This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business and that we remain an outward-looking, world-leading nation."

As Britain gears up for negotiations on leaving the EU, Downing Street said the Nissan news reflects "the resilience of the British economy" and that "as we enter the EU negotiations, we do so from a position of strength and that is where we want to be".

Read more: Nissan boss leaves meeting with the Prime Minister on a positive note

Nissan has announced it will build its next Qashqai SUV as well as the X-Trail SUV model in Sunderland.

The company's chief executive Carlos Ghosn said his company's decision comes following "support and assurances from the UK government", though no further detail was given on what form such support will take.

The government confirmed Nissan was staying put after months of uncertainty following the Brexit vote. The decision will secure 7,000 jobs.

Read more: Bye bye Brexit blues? Nissan's staying in Sunderland

The company's commitment to Britain's biggest car plant had been in serious doubt following the referendum. Ghosn had met the Prime Minister earlier this month and said at the time he was "confident the government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business".

May’s government has previously insisted that no sector would be given preferential treatment in the Brexit negotiations.

“The government should be focusing on creating the best possible environment for all businesses, not on offering behind closed door incentives to particular companies,” said Mark Littlewood, head of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also weighed in, telling the Sunderland Echo that if any deal did exist between the Japanese manufacturer and May, it must be made public.

“If you are offering big inducements to one industry or one manufacturer, then all the others will quite reasonably say, ‘Well, what about us?’,” Corbyn said.

Nissan and the government insisted no favours had been done.

“There’s no special deal for Nissan,” said Colin Lawther, the company’s senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe. “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.”

Ghosn welcomed May's "commitment to the automotive industry in Britain", a turnaround from his comments last month. Ghosn had warned Nissan may not invest in its Sunderland plant unless the government guaranteed compensation for costs tied to any new trade tariffs resulting from Brexit.

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