Nissan and Vauxhall Investments are Great for Post-Brexit Britain – Conservative Article
The news that Vauxhall will be expanding its operations in Ellesmere Port is fantastic. This secures the port’s safety. This, along with the news Nissan gave about its Sunderland plant, proves that Brexit wasn’t the death knell of the automotive industry in the UK like many thought (including the car manufacturers themselves). It’s worth looking at this in-depth, as this news has been pushed under the rug by the news of easing COVID restrictions. This news is just as important. Both of these investments will push the UK’s climate agenda forward too.
Firstly, it is important to look at the Nissan news. At the start of July, Nissan announced that it is setting out plans for a billion-pound electric car hub in Sunderland. This will secure the future of its operations there. Increased production at the plant will provide for an extra 1,650 jobs in the area. The combined investment from Nissan, Envision, and the UK government will create another 4,550 jobs in the supply chain. Thus, creating electric vehicles, fund solar farms with the aim of carbon neutrality, and an electric battery plant. Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, highlighted the fact that this project was a “demonstration of the renaissance of the British car industry”. The government funding demonstrates a commitment to ‘level-up’ the North, as this announcement will put the North East at the centre of the electric car revolution.
This alone is great news. Nissan has long been a critic of Brexit and called for further integration into the union. Chief executive Carlos Ghosn was a key proponent of this. In 1999, Nissan warned that the Sunderland plant was at risk if the UK stayed out of the Euro currency, and has repeatedly made this false claim in the years after. Nissan even threatened to pull out if the UK refused. In the years prior to the Brexit referendum, Ghosn warned that Nissan would reconsider its investment in the Sunderland plant if the UK voted to leave. In the aftermath of Brexit, the company warned that a no-deal would have “serious implications”.
However, after the Brexit deal at the end of 2020, Nissan has changed its mind on Brexit.
Earlier this year, Nissan expressed that it was still committed to making cars in Sunderland, citing the positive Brexit deal Johnson had struck. It went on to say the deal meant a competitive environment had been created and the company would take the opportunity to redefine auto-making in the UK. This latest investment is a clear confirmation of this, and of the belief that being outside of the EU is a positive.
Vauxhall has made a similar transition in their views.
In the run-up to the June referendum, the company warned that the UK leaving the EU would be “undesirable”. The then-mayor Joe Anderson said that Ellesmere Port would close if the UK voted for Brexit. In 2019, the owner said that Brexit could spell the end of Ellesmere Port, thus threatening the jobs there. Their reaction to the Brexit deal was less enthusiastic than Nissan’s, as they did not comment on it or on further investment when it was signed.
However, they have broken their silence, and it is clearly in favour of the deal. Recently, they announced that the plant would be saved with plans to manufacture electric vehicles, securing the jobs there. Vauxhall will invest £100 million, which the government will contribute to. The plant at Luton is already operating at full capacity.
This is fantastic news. Both companies have proven that Brexit isn’t a stumbling block to further investment and innovation within the UK, rather than what the fear-mongering suggested. It’s great to see that two high profile companies have changed their views. The reality of Brexit clearly can’t be that bad for them.
The regional aspect also shouldn’t be missed either. Both investments are happening in the North, something that has been needed for a very long time. I’m sure my Liberal and Labour colleagues will point out the direct investment from the government itself isn’t high. However, it does show that after dealing with COVID, Johnson can start getting on with his levelling up agenda. Levelling up doesn’t have to mean government funding: attracting private companies to invest is just as valuable.
Overall, this bit of news helps to show that Brexit isn’t as bad as people think. Companies do have confidence in a post-Brexit Britain. It also helps to push more climate-friendly vehicles, in a region that is in need of investment. A win all round really.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Kieran Burt
Point of Information
Nissan and Vauxhall are strong investments, but is this enough? – A Labour Response
Despite my history as a Remainer, I try not to dwell on the referendum results that didn’t quite go this way. Instead, I’m optimistic about investment and innovation continuing in the UK regardless of our disunion with the EU.
Kieran has pointed out, admittedly using just two examples, that this opportunity remains and companies can still succeed in a post-Brexit Britain. Thank God. I can completely understand what Kieran calls “fearmongering”. However, I would rephrase this as genuine concern about the future of investment in our country.
Companies will always question significant political change that results in uncertainty. It would be a bad move not to. Evidently, Nissan and Vauxhall see more pros than cons. However, this won’t stop other companies from questioning their futures in the UK.
I was really glad to read Kieran’s points around climate change in this article. I’m glad this element hasn’t been neglected. The transport sector is one of the largest contributors to global warming and, more specifically, to harmful gas emissions. Change is necessary. This certainly looks good, for both the UK and the companies involved in electric vehicle production. Both parties will be looking to get ahead of the game and become leading ‘green’ innovators. Regardless of the self-advantageous reasons behind this, companies are starting to become greener across the board. I’m all for it.
Kieran also centralises some points around levelling up the North. I am completely for greater investment in the North of England and ultimately for greater opportunities and attention. It’s about time. While this is a good start though, it is ultimately just a start in levelling up the North. So much more can be done.
The Nissan and Vauxhall investments are admittedly good for post-Brexit Britain, climate change, and the North. They are however just two cases. For real change and success, we need to look beyond these.
Written by Chief Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Good for the Economy, Climate Change – and Community – A Liberal Response
The expansion of Vauxhall and Nissan in the North is fantastic news. Kieran’s article summarises this very well. The economic potential they will bring to Cheshire and Sunderland respectively is a huge win in a post-Brexit, and post-pandemic, Britain.
Reiterating Kieran’s and Abi’s praise, it is also important to highlight how these expansions make sustainable progress towards our nation’s climate goals. If a green new deal should one day come about (we can hope), then Vauxhall and Nissan provide a solid blueprint for how to implement it effectively. Although, as Abi notes, more examples need to follow. We cannot claim these as token wins. Rather we must develop them into something grander in scale.
We must take care when politicizing these opportunities to level up too heavily. Whether you are pro-Remain or pro-Brexit, Tory or Labour, any British patriot worth their salt should take pride in advancing areas of our country which could have faced a much worse outcome. It is a relief that we were able to reach these levels of investment after we left the EU, given how dicey the prospects seemed initially. We cannot forget that it is the big bosses, using politics as a scapegoat, that may have sacrificed their workers for profit at the end of the day.
Let us not forget about the workers. Whilst Nissan’s and Vauxhall’s expansions should be lauded on both economic and environmental grounds, there is a subtle societal benefit too. By increasing job opportunities in areas that took significant hits to employment during the pandemic, we are building back communities again. Not only will this help to tackle poverty (if wages remain liveable), but also increase a sense of duty, ease tensions created by disparity, and even improve people’s health!
Ultimately, Nissan and Vauxhall should be used to create a shift in how we view the political economy. Government should be at the helm of the economy. Full employment should now be our primary concern. Not balancing the national inflation rate. Focusing on the community is the way forward. I hope, with Abi, that more examples like this will arise in the near future.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen