Labour MP Chuka Umunna demands answers about Nissan deal

Labour MP Chuka Umunna has demanded answers over the Government deal with Nissan.

The former shadow business secretary said it was “extraordinary” that Parliament and the public are being kept in the dark over the deal and said he has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, calling for more details be released.

It comes after the company’s decision to expand its plant in Sunderland.

Nissan’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn had threatened to build the new Qashqai and X-Trail models elsewhere if it faced export tariffs following a so-called “hard Brexit”.

Seven thousand jobs hung in the balance, and Prime Minister Theresa May met Mr Ghosn to smooth over concerns.

This week Downing Street insisted that “no deal or compensation package” had been agreed to stop Nissan taking production abroad, but the Government department told Sky News that a “letter of assurances” had been sent.

Mr Umunna wrote: “People naturally want more information given the vital importance of the issues at stake.

“There has been speculation that the Government may have suggested that public money could be used to compensate Nissan, be it in direct aid or through more indirect means.

“It seems extraordinary that the Government would reveal elements of its negotiating strategy to multinational companies when it is at the same time doing its best to keep Parliament and the public in the dark.”

Export subsidies would be illegal under World Trade Organisation rules, if the Government opts for a hard Brexit and relinquishes membership of the single market in order to control EU immigration.

The Government has so far refused to reveal the exact text it sent to Nissan, saying similar assurances are on offer to all automotive companies and businesses in every industrial sector.

The Unite trade union has said it will press to ensure that any assurances given to Nissan would apply across the manufacturing sector.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of the union, said: “Our members at car and other manufacturing plants across the country rightly are looking for the same job security that appears to have been secured at Nissan through government intervention and investment guarantees.

“We need similar arrangement across the manufacturing sector to protect workers and secure these crucial high skill, decently paid jobs.”

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