Brexit played ‘inevitable role’ in Nissan X-Trail decision, says MP

Reuters

Nissan said it decided not to build the X-Trail model at its existing United Kingdom plant, canceling plans announced two years ago after May's government made undisclosed concessions created to ensure the carmaker's ability to compete after Brexit.

The X-Trail model was previously planned for production in the U.K.as announced in 2016 after the company and United Kingdom government worked out an agreement for future investment.

"While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the U.K.'s future relationship with the European Union is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future".

Bridget Phillipson, Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, tweeted: "If confirmed, this would represent deeply troubling news for the north east economy".

The Sunderland plant, which has been active since 1986, employs nearly 7,000 people and produces around 2,000 cars a day. May said on Sunday she would seek a "pragmatic solution".

Mr Turner said it is "beyond disappointing" that Unite members heard about their futures and the holding back of planned Sunderland investments through the media and not directly from the company.

The Japanese carmaker will continue to produce the X-Trail in Kyushu.

But on Sunday, Nissan, which operates Britain's single-biggest vehicle factory where it builds roughly 30 percent of the country's 1.52 million cars, said it was reversing that decision.

"They have reiterated today their commitment to the United Kingdom by continuing to manufacture in Sunderland the current Qashqai, Leaf and Juke models and the new Qashqai model from 2020".

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This caused critics to claim the Government had struck a "sweetheart deal" wth the manufacturer, shielding it from possible post-Brexit EU tariffs.

The British auto industry has already seen a dramatic drop in investment since the vote, and business leaders have warned of further blows to the sector after the UK's withdrawal.

Nissan is part-owned by French manufacturer Renault, which had led to concerns that production could be moved to France to avoid tariffs that might be introduced on exports to the European Union if the United Kingdom leaves the single market without a deal.

Nissan said planned investment at the Sunderland factory for the next-generation Juke and Qashqai, also announced in 2016, was unaffected.

A report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said investment had effectively "stalled" amid fears over the UK's future trading prospects with the EU.

‎Ford announced it was cutting jobs in the United Kingdom as part of a regional plan.

Just over 1.5 million cars left United Kingdom factories in 2018, a 9.1 per cent decline on the previous year and the lowest for six years.

Last month, Jaguar Land Rover said it would axe 4,500 jobs, with many of them management roles in the UK.

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