Politics update: government letter shows £80m Brexit package offered to Nissan, May heads for Northern Ireland to win support

Theresa May

Good morning. Here’s your daily Politics Update:

May: We will find a deal that honours commitments to Northern Ireland


Theresa May will visit Northern Ireland on Tuesday, where she will give a speech stressing her commitment to avoiding hard border when Britain exits the European Union.

In an attempt to reassure businesses and politicians in Northern Ireland that she can secure a Brexit deal that commands a majority back home, the prime minister will use a two-day visit to underscore her commitment that she will honour the Good Friday agreement.

The prime minister is expected to say: “I know this is a concerning time for many people here in Northern Ireland. But we will find a way to deliver Brexit that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland … that commands broad support across the community in Northern Ireland … and that secures a majority in the Westminster parliament.”

The speech comes less than eight weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU, on 29 March. Speaking on Monday, a Downing Street source said that there was “no change” in the deadline.

Nissan was offered secret aid from government to help with Brexit pressure


Nissan was offered secret package of state aid to cope with the ‘adverse effects’ of Brexit, the business secretary Greg Clark has revealed.

Clark has been forced to admit that the Japanese car manufacturer was offered a package – which could be worth up to £80m – for the carmaker to build a new model of its popular X-Trail car in Sunderland.

In October 2016, when the offer was made, the government denied that any package had been offered to Nissan specifically, saying “there was no special deal for Nissan”. Additionally, when asked what was offered to the company in a BBC interview, Clark avoided the question six times.

Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan questioned why she had not been informed of the payments before Monday. Speaking on Monday Morgan said: “If the government provided financial assistance to Nissan to persuade it to stay in Sunderland, it should set out what this support was and why it did not disclose it to my predecessor.”

EU general secretary: “nobody” is considering giving May what she wants

The European commision has cast a doubtful light on Theresa May’s plans to win concessions on the Irish border backstop, after the commission’s general secretary said the EU were not planning to make any concessions on the issue.

In a post on social media on Monday, Martin Selmayr, the European Commission’s general secretary, said “nobody” on the EU side were planning back down when May next visits Brussels, adding that the bloc was right to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Selmayr said: “On the EU side, nobody is considering [legally binding assurances],”

“Asked whether any assurance would help to get the withdrawal agreement through the Commons, the answers of MPs were … inconclusive.

“The meeting confirmed that the EU did well to start its no-deal preparations in December 2017.”

David Gauke says Brexit could be delayed for ‘orderly EU departure’

Justice Secretary David Gauke has said that Brexit could be delayed in order to achieve an ‘orderly EU departure’, despite attempts for May to get those unhappy with her Brexit deal on board.

Gauke is the third senior cabinet minister to break from the Conservative party line and admit a Brexit delay is possible. Downing Street continues to insist that the government is still working towards the 29 March deadline.

Mr Gauke said that whilst it was the “determination” of the government to see Britain leave the EU by 29 March, MPs would have to back a Brexit deal in “short order” to avoid a no-deal scenario that would be “very bad for this country”.

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