BORIS Johnson has hailed Nissan’s “great vote of confidence” in Brexit Britain after the car maker pledged its long-term future to the UK.
The PM said a commitment by the Japanese firm to keep its plant in Sunderland, which employs 6,000 people, is “fantastic news” for the country.
He said: “This is a great vote of confidence in the UK and fantastic news for the brilliant Nissan workforce in Sunderland and electric vehicle manufacturing in this country.”
Nissan’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta said Brexit will give the firm a “competitive advantage” over its rivals.
His comments marked a radical departure from the company’s previous warnings that leaving the EU threatened the viability of its UK operations.
Mr Gupta said the PM’s trade pact with the EU had prevented major disruption and dismissed checks and paperwork at the border as “peanuts”.
He told the BBC: “The Brexit deal is positive for Nissan. It has created a competitive environment for Sunderland, not just inside the UK but outside as well.
“In certain conditions, our competitiveness is improved. For some of the cases, it is at par. It depends on which car, but competitiveness is definitely improved in electric vehicles.
“Being the largest automaker in the UK we are taking this opportunity to redefine auto-making in the UK.
“We are committed to Sunderland for the long term under the business conditions that have been agreed.”
He added: “For a global manufacturer operating in 150 markets, with 40 plants worldwide, to have additional documentation to fill a form at the border is nothing. People are prepared for it.”
Mr Gupta announced that the firm will manufacture its new 62kWh car battery in Sunderland for export to the EU. It currently makes the Juke, Qashqai, and electric leaf models there.
He also revealed production at the plant could be nearly doubled from its pre-Covid levels, to up to 350,000 cars a year, if there’s demand. It employs 6,000 people directly, and supports almost 70,000 jobs in the supply chain.
Nissan had to pause one of the two production lines at its Sunderland facility today because of chaos at ports caused by Covid measures.
The vote of confidence in Britain defies warnings that Brexit would spell the death knell for the country’s car industry.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Nissan’s decision represents a genuine belief in Britain and a huge vote of confidence in our economy thanks to the vital certainty that our trade deal with the EU has given the auto sector.
“For the dedicated and highly-skilled workforce in Sunderland, it means the city will be home to Nissan’s latest models for years to come and positions the company to capitalise on the wealth of benefits that will flow from electric vehicle production as part of our green industrial revolution.”
During last year’s Brexit talks, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier repeatedly expressed fears Britain could become a car manufacturing hub outside the bloc that would outcompete European rivals.
But despite Mr Gupta’s upbeat remarks, other firms have experienced significant delays importing goods from the continent, with supply chain exports warning shops could start to run out of stock within weeks.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) revealed six out of 10 supply chain managers say they are running into problems with new customs controls and Covid-19 checks.
Source: The Sun