Nissan was offered up to £80m in “support” by the Business Secretary in an attempt to keep their business in the UK after the Brexit referendum result. Ex-Chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was thought to be considering other options after the vote.
Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, wrote to Ghosn in 2016 to offer support and a number of assurances over the future so that Nissan would commit to building new models in the North East.
Nissan confirmed days later it was to build new Qashqai and X-Trail models in the North East. But that decision was partly overturned this weekend when it was revealed the firm had decided to build the X-Trail in Japan instead.
The government have previously denied any so-called ‘sweetheart deals’ were made with Nissan in order to keep them in the UK, and refused to reveal any details.
However, the letter was released by the Department for Business after some of its contents were leaked, and deemed no longer commercially confidential for Nissan.
On 21st October, Clark wrote that it was a “crucial priority” of the UK’s negotiation with the EU to ensure that the ability of carmakers to export to and from the EU was not “adversely affected”.
Clark wrote about how the government would support Nissan in areas such as research and development, calling it a “package of support”.
“As a demonstration of the UK government’s commitment, we are already working with your UK team on a package of support in areas such as skills, R&D (research & development) and innovation.
“Work continues but I understand this could amount to additional support of up to £80m.
“You will understand of course that this figure will be subject to business cases being developed, which are independently assessed, and the usual processes of due diligence.
“It is contingent too on a positive decision by the Nissan Board to allocate production of the Qashqai and X-Trail models to the Sunderland plant. We recognise that the UK has a stake, and we are backing your continued success in Sunderland to the hilt.”
Clark has since confirmed that grants worth £61m were handed to Nissan before June 2018.