Previously the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have declined to answer my FOI request, because they required clarification of what I was requesting. The short of the request was to find out what went on between Theresa May and Nissan to ensure that they didn’t pull out of Sunderland and Britain.

They have remained silent over what was offered to the car manufacturer but the Financial Times claimed that Nissan would have a shield against any Brexit tariffs.

The clarification

Since I sent a clarification email to BEIS on the 21st December 2016, detailing what information I would like from them, the first reply said they would get back to me by the 23rd January.

The first foi request I sent off was replied to late and that was because I used twitter to highlight their failure, but they were only a day late and replied almost immediately after I had sent the tweet. However, this time I have tweeted twice and have yet to receive any response from them.

Ongoing battle for information

This is a long and quite frankly annoying process to get information that should be in the public eye, and recently The Independent could reveal that a ‘Whitehall source’ told them that the letter contained no monetary figure to compensate Nissan.

The source stated that the letter given to Nissan by the government only contained reassurances.

However, the deal itself will represent a short-term solution for a city such as Sunderland, because after a little bit of research, it shows that Sunderland are highly reliant on Nissan due to if you were to remove them and their supply chain, they would drop to 12th highest exporter of all cities in Britain from 1st.

The issue isn’t Nissan leaving, it is the over-reliance on one industry and the deal promotes a short-term solution economically, both nationally and local to Sunderland. If the government focuses on individual companies, it would only benefit a few places across the country and Cities Outlook shows that industries such as the motor industry are only located in aa handful of laces in Britain.

In terms of Sunderland’s over-reliance, it plasters over what is a major issue of not being able to attract business investment in high-skilled work, ranking 44 of 62 in its proportion of jobs in knowledge.

The long-term solution for a city such as Sunderland would be a two-pronged attack, firstly on skills, they perform poorly on several skills measures and this undermines high-skilled jobs. A focus for national and local leaders should be on improvement in GCSE attainment, particularly with Math and English in its current workforce. The second is to improve the city centre as a place for business.

Efforts in vain

The information I am after is not going to come back, because as they have previously stated “it is not in any documentation”.

This is a concern that the government would make reassurances to a large manufacturer and want those ‘reassurances’ to remain secret. Whatever Nissan were told or offered will eventually come out, however, it is not on this letter that was sent to the Japanese car manufacturer.