Brexit critic Nissan downplays impact of leaving EU on UK operations

Nissan bosses have downplayed the impact of Brexit on its UK operations.

The Japanese car giant was a vocal critic of Britain’s departure from the EU.

But earlier this week the company announced a £2 billion upgrade of its Sunderland plant.

Chief executive Makoto Uchida said the UK would remain the firm’s main base and its most important market in Europe for “the foreseeable future”.

He told the Sunday Times: “If not, we would not be making this investment.”

Alan Johnson, Nissan’s senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain, said that while leaving the bloc had made its operations in Britain “more bureaucratic… we quite quickly adapted. So that is just normal now”.

He said Brexit red tape had a “negligible” effect on UK prices, adding that energy bills were “much more significant”.

It comes after Nissan this week announced a £2 billion plan to build three electric car models at its Sunderland site.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the investment was a “massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry”.

Mr Sunak said: “This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing.

“Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan.

“We will continue to back businesses like Nissan to expand and grow their roots in the UK every step of the way as we make the right long-term decisions for a brighter future.”

Brexiteers also celebrated the investment by the carmaking giant.

Former Business Secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said: “The woe is me, Remainiacs must be weeping into their porridge as Nissan invests yet more in the UK.

“The car manufacturers are no longer the poster boys of Project Fear.”

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