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Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn received assurances from the prime minister that the carmaker would be shielded from the impact of Brexit [Montage: FT/Getty].

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn received assurances from the prime minister that the carmaker would be shielded from the impact of Brexit [Montage: FT/Getty].

It’s looking as though Anna Soubry was right and Nissan was indeed offered a ‘sweetener’ deal to stay in the UK after Brexit.

It seems certain that other firms will rush to secure similar assurances – that would leave the Treasury, and the hard-working UK citizens the Tories are so fond of praising, seriously out of pocket.

It seems the Conservative Government under Theresa May is unsafe wherever it goes.

If it denies any further ‘sweeteners’ to other multinational firms, they may pack their bags and head for the continent.

If it gives in, then not only will it seem weak but it will also create a spending commitment that taxpayers will struggle to meet.

So a deal that the Tories were touting as a huge victory only two days ago now stands revealed as a monumental mess.

Still, it’s a rosy result for Nissan and company director Carlos Ghosn, who will build two new models at a plant in Sunderland from 2019.

These are the X-trail and the Qashqai – although Mr Ghosn may wish to consider renaming the latter.

In the light of recent events, ‘Cash Cow’ seems more appropriate.

Nissan warned the British government that the carmaker would wind down UK operations if it was not guaranteed competitive trading conditions with Europe, according to two people involved in negotiations over future investment in its Sunderland plant.

During talks that led to a meeting between Theresa May and Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese carmaker said it was prepared to shift production to its Spanish and French factories in a move that would lead to the closure of its British plant and other UK sites.

Government assurances offered to Nissan led to its decision this week to locate two new cars at the plant from 2019, safeguarding more than 30,000 jobs at the site and in its supply chain.

Sunderland’s closure would have caused a political tidal wave and set a precedent for other carmakers to locate future work outside Britain.

Rival carmakers are now demanding the same assurances offered to Nissan to shield them from the impact of Brexit. While technology and pharmaceuticals companies are prioritising visas for skilled workers, other exporters including chemicals manufacturers have set tariff-free access to the EU as a priority.

The prime minister’s office faces calls from Labour to disclose details of its exact pledges to Nissan, including the contents of a letter written by Greg Clark, the business secretary, to Nissan’s executive committee in Japan.

According to several people familiar with the contents of the letter, it contains the same assurances that were offered to Mr Ghosn by the prime minister — namely that the carmaker would face no change in its trading conditions following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Source: Nissan warned government on fate of Sunderland without deal

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