Tag Archives: sweetheart deal

Nissan deal has created a financial nightmare for UK taxpayers. Thanks for nothing, Tories!

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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No ‘sweeteners’ in Nissan deal, says Clark – because other firms will want equal treatment?

The production line was stopped at 11:00 BST on Thursday so workers could be told about the decision [Image: Getty Images].

The production line was stopped at 11:00 BST on Thursday so workers could be told about the decision [Image: Getty Images].

Here’s another chance for Theresa May’s Tories to tie themselves in knots.

The car manufacturer Nissan announced yesterday (Thursday, October 28) that it will remain in the UK post-Brexit, meaning more than 7,000 jobs at its Sunderland plant are safe and it will manufacture two new models there.

But was it offered a ‘sweetheart deal’ to stay? Business Secretary Greg Clark says no.

“There’s no cheque book. I don’t have a cheque book,” he said on the BBC’s Question Time.

“The important thing is that they know this is a country in which they can have confidence they can invest. That was the assurance and the understanding they had and they have invested their money.”

Was he lying, though? According to The Guardian, “Greg Clark reportedly gave a ‘last-minute written promise’ to Nissan to protect the company from the consequences of Brexit, in a pledge that will fuel Labour’s demand for the government to publish any private guarantees.”

And fellow Tory Anna Soubry indicated her own conviction that a ‘sweetener’ had been applied. The Telegraph reported: “She said she had met Nissan on June 30, a week after the Brexit vote, and that the company expressed ‘profound concerns’ about tariffs.

“She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘They didn’t give the detail of what they wanted, they made it very clear that without a guarantee that they would not be subject to tariffs or if they were subject to tariffs the Government would do something to mitigate the damage of tariffs… that without that, they told me, my understanding actually was that they would go to Renault because they clearly had the capacity there.’

“On the assurances that helped Nissan decide to build its next-generation Qashqai, and add production of the new X-Trail model, at its Sunderland plant, Ms Soubry said: ‘I don’t know what it is but I would be very surprised if there hasn’t been some sort of guarantee to mitigate any tariffs should they be imposed.'”

Just to muddy the waters, though, it seems Nissan never had any intention to leave – according to right-wing gossip-monger Guido Fawkes’ blog, which stated in May: “Nissan are on the record saying they won’t leave Britain post-Brexit and have been at pains not to scaremonger about the referendum. So they were a bit put out by Anna Soubry using their reception in parliament last night to preach doom on their behalf. The event had nothing to do with Europe, but Soubs misjudged the tone and told guests how leaving the EU will cause a ‘disaster for manufacturing’ and result in ‘an immediate 10% tariff on Nissan cars’.”

Now she pops up again, again talking about tariffs. And we have no guarantee that Nissan meant what it said before the referendum; it could have been angling for a ‘sweetener’, even then.

And a ‘quiet’ deal would be handy for the government, if it didn’t want to promise a mitigation deal for every Tom, Dick or Harriet who is now facing a 15% tariff on imports/exports.

Bizarrely, some commenters on Twitter were all right with that:

So there you have it. If you don’t get a ‘sweetener’ deal from Theresa May and Greg Clark, then your firm probably isn’t considered “good for the economy”.

In fact, it’s more likely to be because Mrs May and Mr Clark simply don’t want to pay out compensation to any old pleb who is likely to suffer because of their party’s silly referendum stunt.

That’s nice to know, isn’t it?

Britain’s starvation crisis won’t bother our new millionaires at all

Britain's shame: The front page of yesterday's Daily Mirror.

Britain’s shame: The front page of yesterday’s Daily Mirror.

So the United Kingdom now houses more millionaires than ever before – but at the huge cost of forcing hundreds of thousands of people to seek help from food banks or starve.

This is David Cameron’s gamble: That enough people will profit from the misery of the huge underclass he has created to vote him back into office in 2015, to continue his attack on anybody who takes home less than £100,000 pay per year.

Are you really that selfish?

Do you think this is any way for a civilised, First-World society to order itself?

No – it’s more like the description of the Third World that became prevalent towards the end of the 1960s: A country with low economic development, low life expectancy, high rates of poverty, and rampant disease. They are also countries where a wealthy ruling class is free to exploit the population at large who, without money or force of arms, are powerless to stop them.

Let’s see now… The UK definitely has low economic development. Neoliberal governments since 1979 have decimated our industrial base and the so-called recovery we are currently enjoying has yet to show any worthwhile results, despite the dubious rises in employment and wages that are making headlines this week.

Low life expectancy? Yes, we have that. People in lower-class residential areas are expected to live only a few years into their retirement, if they make it that far, while those in rich areas may continue into their late eighties. Sharp readers will recognise that, although we all pay the same amount into the state pension, the rich get more from it as they live long enough to receive larger amounts.

High rates of poverty? According to the Trussell Trust, the number of food parcels it handed out per year tripled from 346,992 in 2012 to 913,138 last year, with 330,205 going to children. Another 182,000 were provided by 45 independent food banks. The government says poverty is falling but bases its figures on a proportion of the median wage, which has been dropping for the last six years. This means government claims that worker wages are rising must also be lies.

Rampant disease? Perhaps we should not go as far as to suggest this is happening – but the British Isles have witnessed the return of diseases long-thought banished from these shores, like Rickets and Scarlet Fever, along with an increase in Tuberculosis. These are all poverty-related, as they are caused by malnourishment. You can thank your Tory government for forcing so many people out of work and diverting so much NHS funding into privatisation.

As for a wealthy working class exploiting the population – the evidence is all around us.

Look at the reasons people are being driven to food banks, according to the Daily Mirror article from which I quoted the food bank figures: “Benefits cuts and delays, the rising cost of living and pay freezes are forcing more and more people into food banks, experts have long warned.” All of these are the result of Tory government policy.

The government is, of course, unrepentant. I had the misfortune to see Treasury minister David Gauke – who found infamy when he signed off on huge “sweetheart deals” letting multinational firms off paying billions of pounds of income tax they owed us – saying he was not ashamed of the huge food bank uptake. He said they were doing a valuable job and he was glad that the government was signposting people to them. Nobody seemed to want to ask him: In the country with the world’s sixth-largest economy, why are food banks needed at all?

Of course, I’m not likely to persuade anyone to change their political allegiance over this. You all know where I stand and, besides, this blog is simply not big enough to make a difference.

So I’ll leave you with the words of someone who is far more popular: Eddie Izzard, writing in (again) the Mirror:

“A million food parcels. How did our Britain get to be so hungry? Our country, where even after the Second World War, we still had the ambition to feed our poorest people and build a better country.

“This government said it wanted to reform the British welfare system. Instead, it has broken it. The proof is here in the desperate families who have had to turn to their GP, not for medicine, but for vouchers to be able to eat.

“Instead of supporting the most vulnerable people in Britain during the recession this government has hit them with a wave of cruel cuts and punishments – sanctions, Bedroom Tax, welfare cuts.

“The zero hours economy it champions is not enough to put food on tables. It’s done nothing to tackle food and fuel costs.

“No wonder that today, 600 faith leaders, dozens of charities and 40 bishops are telling David Cameron he is failing the country’s poorest people.”

Perhaps you are not affected, like all those new millionaires on whom the Tories are relying. Do you think that makes it all right for this to be happening here?

You can use your vote to share your opinion.

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Court privatisation – what happened to the Lord Chief Justice’s objections?

Laying down the gavel: It seems that InJustice Secretary Chris Grayling is determined to sell justice to the highest bidder - ending a prohibition on the sale of justice that goes back to 1215 and the Magna Carta. Are you going to let him?

Laying down the gavel: It seems that InJustice Secretary Chris Grayling is determined to sell justice to the highest bidder – ending a prohibition on the sale of justice that goes back to 1215 and the Magna Carta. Are you going to let him?

Have a look at this, from a Ministry of Justice press release today. It quotes a letter to judges in England and Wales:

“Given the financial stringency which will be applied to HMCTS [Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service], as to everywhere else, we are examining every realistic option…  for example, whether the current structures could be transformed, or whether an alternative structure, such as a more independent public interest corporation, would better ensure a sustainable future.”

In other words, We Are Going To Sell Justice.

The release is signed by Sir Jeremy Sullivan, senior president of tribunals; Lord Igor Judge, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales; and of course Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

It is no surprise that Grayling’s name is attached to the document. He is the “absolute tit” (thank you John Finnemore and the BBC) whose strategy to privatise Legal Aid and put people who are still innocent until proven guilty into the hands of his corporate friends who have a financial incentive to make them plead guilty, no matter what.

Sir Jeremy Sullivan’s involvement as head of the Tribunals Service indicates that a forthcoming change in fortunes, for example, if you are an Employment and Support Allowance claimant appealing against a wrong decision by the DWP/Atos. At the moment, the number of appeals has been increasing rapidly, with almost half achieving a ruling against the government department. Do you honestly think that will continue if Tribunals are run as a commercial concern, with the government as a major investor?

(Yes; I am saying this seems a transparent plan by Grayling, possibly with his former master Iain Duncan Smith, to clear a major obstacle to their project to drive the sick and disabled off the benefit books, possibly to their deaths. Many people who did not appeal have already died – for reasons which are not clear, although it seems unlikely this would have happened had the DWP not interfered. Privatising the courts may be seen as a bid to deter people from launching appeals.)

Of even more concern is the appearance of Lord Igor Judge as a signatory. Only last month, he was warning Grayling not to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

In a letter to Grayling, he warned that the proposed changes would revoke constitutional arrangements dating back to – and including – “the prohibition in Magna Carta on ‘selling justice'”.

Why is he now happy to allow justice to be sold – and to be influenced by a right-wing government with an agenda of oppression?

The Guardian, reporting on Lord Judge’s letter, stated that the Ministry of Justice had “denied that wholesale privatisation of the courts service is being considered”. It seems that was untrue.

Why is Lord Judge now, apparently supporting this?

Is it because the privatisation threat comes towards the bottom of the letter, while an assurance that “justice is and will remain a core function of the State” is right at the top?

The reason given for the need to change the way the courts and tribunals work is “current financial pressures”. Readers of this article should be aware that there are NO financial pressures on the government other than those its ministers have invented in their own minds – as an excuse to cut services or sell them off.

In short, we are being governed by a gang of spivs.

Press releases such as this prove that the Coalition government has no desire to rule in the best interest of the nation; it is here to cut the state down to nothing; to sell off those public services likely to provide a profit to the private sector – into which ministers may well retire; and to exploit the vast majority of the population for the enrichment of ministers and their friends in business.

Readers are advised to write to their MPs and to Mr Grayling, opposing these plans; to point out that any pretend “financial pressures” may be alleviated by investment in the UK economy, to create jobs and tax returns; by the closure of tax loopholes that allow the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share; and by the end of so-called ‘sweetheart deals’ with large corporations that allow them to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

The evidence is right in front of us all. We should not allow ourselves to be hoodwinked.

Another ‘snout in the trough’ gets a sweetheart deal

Not such a sweetheart: Dave Hartnett, formerly of HMRC, now of Deloitte's. There's a line by Herbert Morris - "something in the lad's upturned face appealed to him. He hurled a brick at it". Would THIS man's upturned face appeal to you in the same way?

Not such a sweetheart: Dave Hartnett, formerly of HMRC, now of Deloitte’s. There’s a line by Herbert Morris – “something in the lad’s upturned face appealed to him. He hurled a brick at it”. Would THIS man’s upturned face appeal to you in the same way?

Dave Hartnett, the former tax executive responsible for the hugely controversial “sweetheart deals” that allowed multinational corporations including Vodafone and Starbucks to avoid paying billions of pounds in taxes to the UK treasury, has started work with Deloitte, the accountancy firm and auditor of – guess who? – Vodafone and Starbucks.

Hartnett quit as Permanent Secretary for Tax at HM Revenue and Customs and then took on the one-day-a-week role (according to, among others, The Independent). Deloitte – one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms at the heart of every major scheme for tax avoidance – continues in its role at the UK Treasury, helping (if you can call it that) to write the law on – guess what? – tax avoidance.

Considering all of the above, does anybody seriously expect us to believe that Hartnett was working for the public when he was at HMRC?