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Analysis

Nissan shows business and unions can’t hold back on Brexit

by Luke Lythgoe | 04.02.2019

Nissan’s decision not to build its new X-Trail model in Sunderland, citing “continued uncertainty” around Brexit, is a huge blow. Not just for the 7,000 workers at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and the entire North East economy. But also because Nissan was the company which pledged to invest in Brexit Britain after cutting a deal with the government back in October 2016. If it’s rowing back on that agreement, things really must be bad.

It’s time businesses sounded the alarm on Brexit in all its forms. Those that haven’t yet must go further than simply warning against a “no deal” crash out of the EU, as they have been doing. That is the worst case scenario, for sure, and has understandably focused bosses’ attention. But decisions such as Nissan’s are being made before we’ve even left, as a reaction to business uncertainty. Any form of Brexit, particularly the government’s deal, would see that uncertainty stretching out for years ahead. A “Brexternity” of stalled economic decisions and companies voting with their feet.

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The trade unions also must join employers in calls against Brexit. In particular, Unite – the union which represents Nissan’s Sunderland workers – should take a clearer line against a policy which is damaging so many of its members. Its assistant general secretary called the news at the weekend “disturbing” and said Nissan’s workers were “very anxious”.

And yet Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, who has done little to hide his desire to see the UK leave the EU, is holding talks with the prime minister to find an agreement on workers’ rights that would help her deal gain left-wing support. Leaving aside doubts that McCluskey can actually trust the government to stand by such a deal, the crucial fact is that workers’ rights aren’t much use if people don’t have jobs.

There’s anger in the trade unions movement at McCluskey’s parallel talks with the Tories, with one senior source telling the Observer: “History will damn the treacherous moves to sideline the rest of the trade union movement and frustrate Labour party conference policy.”

These are desperate times for UK industry. Both businesses and trade unions must stop trying to facilitate a softer Brexit and acknowledge that no type of Brexit is as good as the deal we’ve got in the EU today. Every proposal out there would leave us poorer and racked by uncertainty for years to come. And the most democratic way to stay in the EU is to hold a People’s Vote, and ask employees and union members up and down the country whether they really want to go through with Brexit after all.

Tags: , Categories: Brexit, Economy

One Response to “Nissan shows business and unions can’t hold back on Brexit”

  • British car industry was already demolished
    In the sixties
    The number of brands were numerous in those days!
    Sad state of affairs.