Nissan Dilemma

Britain's Brexit Promises No Bad Thing

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    By making private concessions to car maker Nissan, the British government has opened itself up to blackmail from big business and given a significant signal as to its negotiating position with the E.U.

  • Facts


    • The British government gave a “last-minute written promise” to Nissan to protect the company from Brexit consequences.
    • The promises indicate that the British government believes it will be able to maintain access to the European single market.
    • Although the Nissan promises have been criticized, they have bought the British government time.
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A worker is seen completing final checks on the production line at Nissan car plant in Sunderland
Nissan makes hundreds of thousands of cars in the UK. Source: Reuters

No matter what you do, you’re doing it wrong: That’s an idea the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was forced to come to terms with over the past few days. A heated debate was raging in Parliament, the opposition was up in arms and there was criticism from all sides. But amid all the infighting, there was “fantastic news”, Ms. May said: Japanese carmaker Nissan would continue to invest in Great Britain.

Brexit or no Brexit, the firm will be producing two important car models in the country in the future. This secures almost 7,000 jobs in the northeast of England, a region hard hit by the decline of the mining and ship-building industries.

But the celebrations were short-lived when it was revealed that the British government had made certain concessions in a letter to Nissan to keep them sweet. Apparently London had assured the Japanese they would have no disadvantages to fear from Brexit, even if the exit from the European single market hasn’t yet been negotiated.

There was widespread indignation when the government refused to give in to calls from the opposition to reveal the details of those assurances. And now other companies have been inspired to try and claim similar advantageous conditions for themselves.

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