The Japanese-owned firm announced that the Prime Minister’s trade deal with the EU had confirmed the factory’s future – protecting thousands of jobs in the North-east. The move is seen in Downing Street as proof that the gloomy predictions about the UK’s departure were wrong.
Mr Johnson tweeted: “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 chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta predicted the agreement hammered out just before Christmas had given Wearside a competitive edge and will “redefine” the British car industry.
He said: “Brexit has brought the business continuity in the short term, protects 75,000 jobs across Europe and, most importantly, all of our models which we manufacture in Sunderland.”
Mr Gupta said Nissan will continue to invest in the UK, as it did before Brexit.
He said: “Sunderland is one of the top three plants in the world for competitiveness for Nissan. Brexit gives us the competitive advantage in the UK and outside.”
Mr Gupta also said Nissan will shift production of batteries for Leaf electric cars from Japan to Sunderland to avoid EU tariffs.
Exports are zero-rated if at least 55 percent of the vehicle’s value comes from the UK or the EU.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “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.”
Steve Bush, of the Unite union, added: “This workforce and their community deserve a future and we will be working with Nissan to deliver this because bumpy times lie ahead.”
Sunderland Council leader Graeme Miller said it was a boost for the area and “helps cement the city’s well-established track record in future technologies”.
Nissan said it had to pause production of the Qashqai and Leaf at the plant yesterday due to shipping routes and ports coming under pressure because of Covid.