The money was contingent on Nissan's production of the Qashqai and X-Trail sport utility vehicle models at the Sunderland plant, where 440,000 units, including electric cars, were produced in 2018 - a third of the total auto output in Britain.
But the letter, which the government previously refused to publish on multiple occasions, had prompted accusations that ministers were doing secretive deals with firms, prompting some Brexiteers to question whether pledges made might keep Britain tied to EU mechanisms such as the customs union.
The newspaper said the letter contained comments by Mr Clark that it would be "a critical priority of our [Brexit] negotiations to support United Kingdom vehicle manufacturers". In a bid to perform damage limitation, the government has insisted that Nissan's decision will not result in any job losses at the plant (but this is unsurprising as it is a planned expansion that has been cancelled).
"We will set our ambitions high and vigorously pursue continued access to the European market as an objective in future negotiations".
While Nissan said its decision to cancel making the X-Trail here wasn't because of Brexit per se, it did say that "the continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the European Union is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future". The chairman of Nissan Europe, Gianluca de Ficchy said: 'We appreciate this ...
Automotive manufacturers in the United Kingdom with diesel cars that fail to meet the latest emission standards now face a number of hefty levies.
Nissan had been making the cars in sunderland since 1986 and it has nearly 7,000 people employed there. In 2016, the then-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn said the company would build the new model in the United Kingdom after "assurances" from the government, the BBC said. We now know the X-Trail won't be manufactured here after Brexit (though the Qashqai should continue to be), yet Nissan has already pocketed £2.6m.
Many Japanese companies had long seen Britain as the gateway into Europe, after being encouraged to open factories in the country by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher but Brexit has thrown that into doubt, prompting consternation in Tokyo.
However, earlier this week it confirmed a decision to move production to Japan.
Mr Ramsbotham said: "The automotive sector in this country is vitally important and needs to be protected".
"Should it be a hard Brexit, I would not be surprised if also the decision to produce the Juke and the Qashqai might be re-examined", he told AFP.
The so-called backstop is meant to ensure there is no return to a hard border with Ireland, but Brexit supporters fear it will keep Britain tied to the EU's customs rules.
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