Esther McVey Denies Nissan Decision Is Linked To Brexit

3 February 2019, 13:50 | Updated: 3 February 2019, 15:30

Esther McVey insisted that Nissan's decision was nothing to do with Brexit, but Nissan's Europe boss later confirmed that Brexit uncertainty had played a part.

Nissan has told staff in Sunderland the company will not make the new X-Trail there, as previously planned.

Nissan had pledged to manufacture the new SUV model in the UK four months after the referendum - a move seen as a major vote of confidence in the country's manufacturing outside the EU.

However, today, Nissan's Europe division boss wrote to Sunderland factory staff confirming the news and telling them that the model will continue to be made in Japan.

Many remain MPs have said that Brexit uncertainty is to blame for Nissan withdrawing from plans to manufacture its X-Trail model in the UK.

During Nigel Farage's show, Esther McVey was challenged by a caller on the impact of Brexit on business - specifically in the case of Nissan - and she wholeheartedly denied that Brexit was to blame.

Esther McVey Nissan
Picture: LBC & PA

"That decision for Nissan, and the car industry as a whole, isn't about Brexit, it's fundamentally been about what's happened in China and the lack of sales there, and about diesel and the changes there."

Nigel Farage conceded that there was "certainly an argument about uncertainty" but Ms McVey maintained that even the FT had acknowledged "it was about the diesel situation".

Nevertheless, shortly after McVey's appearance on Nigel's show, Nissan's Europe division boss Gianluca de Ficchy announced that the decision was a mixture of investment needed for emissions regulations and reduced sales forecasts and that added uncertainty over Brexit had also played a part.

The Nissan boss said that the announcement would be "interpreted by a lot of people as a decision related to Brexit" and that "uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future".

He added: "With the UK's departure from the EU on March 29th getting closer every week, we have a taskforce in place, reporting to me, that it is considering all of the possible scenarios and the potential impact on business.