Nissan had been pressing for compensation from the government in the event of a hard Brexit but Downing Street and Nissan have dismissed any suggestion of Government financial support to secure new investment in Sunderland. Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, had already outlined his own Brexit concerns and the implications for the company’s future investment decisions, especially regarding the building of two new car models in Sunderland:
If I need to make an investment in the next few months and I can’t wait until the end of Brexit, then I have to make a deal with the UK government. If there are tax barriers being established on cars, you have to have a commitment for carmakers who export to Europe that there is some kind of compensation.
The key concern, as expressed by Ghosn, was about European tariffs on cars exported from the UK, but the nature of the statements released by the company appeared to go beyond the issue of tariffs.
After meeting personally with the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, on 14th October 2016, Ghosn said that he was “confident the British government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business.”
Less than two weeks later, on 27th October, Ghosn announced that Nissan had decided to go ahead with the investment after receiving “the support and assurances of the UK government.” He added, “I welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to the automotive industry in Britain and to the development of an overall industrial strategy.”