“While we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.”
And still some argue they know better than the people who made the decision, and claim that Brexit is nothing to do with it.
What’s more, this isn’t an argument based around Leave or Remain. The swipe, if I can describe it as such, by de Ficchy isn’t on the impact of Brexit itself (he doesn’t have a crystal ball, after all) but is very much aimed at the negotiation process, something that it would take an extremely brave or ignorant soul to claim is anything but chaotic and ongoing.
What reasonable mind – particularly one clever enough to hit CEO level in a multi-national corporation – could conclude that investing tens or hundreds of millions into a plant in the UK is a good idea when they have no sound basis for knowing what the outcome of negotiations – and thereby the standing on which they will realise those investments – will be?
Yes, Brexit and the surrounding negotiations may not be the main reason for this decision: it is absolutely clear that the collapse in diesel sales has played a greater role, with customers even in the large SUV segment showing concerns around buying even the most modern diesels, and the proposed Renault-sourced power plant proving hard to upgrade to latest emission standards.
But just because there are other issues at play, it doesn’t mean we should give anyone shouting ‘Look over there, not here!’ and claiming that the Nissan decision has nothing to do with Brexit any credence. Likewise, the Jaguar Land Rover job cuts (you can add the Chinese sales and diesel slump into the mix there) and so too Ford’s (over-capacity, unprofitable cars) and Vauxhall’s (diesel slump, profitability and more). Dial it up or dial it down, Brexit is always there, another reason to put the UK down the order.
This inescapable truth is surely highlighted by the collapse in investment by automotive firms last year by almost half, to a five-year low, which certainly suggests that – at a time of unprecedented and various challenges and opportunities – others have reached similar conclusions to Nissan. Again, the reasons for the slump are many and varied; again, the Brexit impasse must be a factor.
For now, Brexit is an added complication to any dealings with the UK. The fear must be that the mindset is switching from ‘hold-fire’ to ‘forget it, there are plenty of other places we can do that’.