What can the Nissan reinvestment in Sunderland tell us about Brexit?

21 December 2016

What can the Nissan reinvestment in Sunderland tell us about Brexit?

Living through the rhetoric of Brexit in the UK feels a bit like being a mouse on a wheel. The statement "Brexit means Brexit", often delivered with steely tones, sets us off up the wheel sprinting towards an unknown destination, only for the retort "but what does Brexit mean anyway?" to send us back to the starting point. So who is right?

Living through the rhetoric of Brexit in the UK feels a bit like being a mouse on a wheel. The statement "Brexit means Brexit", often delivered with steely tones, sets us off up the wheel sprinting towards an unknown destination, only for the retort "but what does Brexit mean anyway?" to send us back to the starting point. So who is right?

Well, everyone of course – with a question so ill-defined there cannot be an alternative answer. It is worth stating the obvious: the UK's relationship to the EU has developed over decades, and decoupling the UK will have highly unpredictable outcomes. But while relations with Europe are important to all those in the UK, this does not imply that all will be equally affected, or even if they were, all would be treated equally.

A significant clue appeared when one of the first visitors to the newly appointed Prime-minister, Teresa May, meet with Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan who left the PM's office with a beaming smile. This meeting followed on from stark report released by the Japanese foreign ministry that Japanese FDI in the UK was endangered by Brexit. A message that was delivered in person to the British nation by the Japanese ambassador to the UK, Koji Tsuruoka, when he was interviewed on Radio 4's Today Programme on the 5th September. It cannot be seen as a shock that a few weeks later Nissan has announced their continued investment.

So what is going on? Is it a case of those who make the most noise are going to be heard? Is it something about cars? Is it to do with Nissan’s plant being located in a part of the UK where wages are lower than the UK average and jobs relatively harder to come by?

Read on for James' full opinion piece.

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