Downing Street insists that there was no sweetheart deal for compensation between the government and the giant car manufacturer, Renault-Nissan, but Labour has asked for the basic terms to be revealed.
The government has insisted that no compensation was agreed with Nissan for progressing with a boost to its car production in Sunderland.
However, Downing Street has suggested that written assurances were given to the carmaker which fuelled claims that the firm would be compensated if the EU imposed tariffs on its cars post-Brexit Britain.
Business Secretary, Greg Clark reportedly gave written last minute assurances that Britain would compensate Nissan in case of tariffs imposed to the Nissan’s car production, which may have helped the company in their decision to boost its British production.
But Greg Clark has insisted that no cheque books were involved in the assurance given to Nissan.
Speaking on BBC1’s Question Time on Thursday night, Clark indicated there had been no offer of financial compensation:
“There’s no cheque book. I don’t have a cheque book,” he said.
“The important thing is that they know this is a country in which they can have confidence they can invest. That was the assurance and the understanding they had and they have invested their money.”
However, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has urged Number 10 to reveal more details about these last-minute assurances. He told Sky News:
“I welcome that the Government have done a deal with Nissan that protects jobs and supports the local community and economy.
“But that deal needs to be accompanied by transparency and accountability.
“We can’t have the Government doing deals that affect jobs and the future of our economy without telling the public or Parliament what the basic terms are.
“They now need to spell that out and strike a wider deal that gives certainty to businesses, workers and communities across the country.”
Thursday was a good day for the government, with Nissan committing to build its new Qashqai and X-Trail models in Sunderland, potentially creating hundreds of jobs. This good news came right after the announcement of new figures that showed the economy had fared far better than expected in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.
However, it’s not all good news for May’s government as RBS has announced a £469m loss for the July-to-September period which suggests that the British economy isn’t doing as well as the PM would like us to believe.
Maybe Number 10 is right – no cheque books were involved, but if that is the case, the government should come clean and reveal what was the nature of those “written last-minute assurances”.