IT WOULD HAVE TO close down its factories. Thousands of job would be lost. Suppliers would be abandoned, and the local economy would be shattered for a generation.
It was sometimes a little hard to work out why a few hardcore Remainers cared quite so much about Nissan. Its range of mid-market, family SUVs were not the kind of cars they would usually be seen dead in. But somehow the company became emblematic of the whole bitter debate about how the British economy would suffer if we left the European Union. If we weren’t in the Single Market, we were told again and again, the business was doomed.
So last month’s news from the company is, to put it mildly, slightly surprising. It turns out that Nissan is indeed restructuring its European manufacturing operations as it struggles with declining sales. But its Barcelona plant is closing, not the one in Sunderland. In fact, production may be ramped up in Britain. There is even some speculation its partner Renault might shift some production here as well (although we can just imagine what the French government, with a 15 per cent stake, will have to say about that).
This certainly isn’t how we were told things would go. We were told again and again that car manufacturing would be destroyed by Brexit. Exports into Europe would face tariffs of up to 10 per cent. Just-in-time supply chains would collapse as it took three weeks to clear the paperwork on a couple of spark plugs. Skilled workers wouldn’t be available anymore. The Nissan plant could close if we voted Leave, argued its now-disgraced chief executive Carlos Ghosn in 2016. The Japanese government issued dire warnings about what its companies might have to do if the UK didn’t stay in the Single Market. Hardcore Remainers jumped on every warning with characteristic glee, reminding us all that Sunderland voted strongly to Leave. It was the perfect example of how ordinary people had been duped, and would suffer the consequences.
Even Leavers, if they were being honest, expected car manufacturing to suffer, even if other parts of the economy did better. But that isn’t how it is working out. Even though we are now definitely leaving, and the fraught state of the negotiations makes it seem more and more likely we will do so without any kind of trade deal, Nissan is expanding rather than contracting.
In fact, there isn’t any great mystery about it. The mistake some Remainers make is to vastly over-emphasise the significance of the Single Market. Sure, it is nice to have, but it is only one factor among many when deciding where to base factories. Productivity, local skills, demand, wage rates and transport costs are all equally important, and probably more so. Some extra paperwork is often not a big deal. And if there are tariffs, the exchange rate will make up for them. In truth, all the warnings of catastrophe were completely wrong, and the Sunderland car workers who voted to Leave got it right. You might hope that some of the leading Remainers would now admit that membership of the EU doesn’t make much difference to the economy one way or another, although admittedly that might be far too much to hope for.
AS THE METRO-LONDON LEFT were becoming priapic with outrage over Mr Cummings, the American left was happily engaged in another bout of self-immolation. The presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency, Joe Biden, told an African-American radio show host ‘you ain’t black’ if you support Donald Trump. Out of the mouths of babes and the senile, then. Biden could not have been more racist if he had blacked up and sang ‘Ah’ll bet mah money on de bobtail nag, doo-dah, doo-dah’ while waving his hands in the air.
Biden has subsequently apologised for trying to be ‘a wise guy’. But the damage was done. It is such an obnoxious comment and yet entirely accepted as a kind of truism on the white liberal left, which treats people of colour as if they were children, to be pitied and cared for and endlessly patronised. It is axiomatic that racial equality means the right to vote for who the hell you want regardless of the colour of your skin and that to suggest otherwise is the very core of a racist mindset. As USA Today put it: ‘Biden and the Democratic National Committee seem to look at black Americans just as votes and not as actual people, with brains, feelings and families. Liberal policies have not made it easier for black business owners to navigate fewer regulations, pay less in taxes, and be lifted out of poverty. Liberal policies were not responsible for historic low black unemployment, and the creation of opportunity zones.’
But therein lies the problem: stripped of the black and Hispanic vote it takes for granted, how could the Democrats ever hope to win again, with only the very affluent white East Coast liberals and a few social media billionaires in Portland, Seattle and San Jose? Increasingly, though, the black and Hispanic communities are wising up. It was Republicans who abolished slavery; it was southern Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s who fought to retain segregation. It is the conservatives who espouse traditional family values and a commitment to religious faith, both areas which find favour among black and Hispanic voters. The message is slowly getting through that BAME voters do not need to be clients of an arrogant and frankly racist liberal elite, obsessed as it is with identity politics.
How long before UK BAME voters similarly get the message? Not long, you would hope. The same kind of racist spite has been directed at the likes of Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel: not properly black or Asian, not if you’re with the Conservatives. You see, if you’re black or Asian you need Jeremy Corbyn to ‘unlock your potential’ because you are quite incapable of unlocking it yourself. I wouldn’t trust Corbyn to successfully unlock the bathroom door. And yet the hyper-liberal policies of the modern left do not remotely resonate with family- and faith-centred BAME communities, especially not with Muslims.
Welcome to June 2020, welcome to Streetwise Magazine
Welcome to June 2020, welcome to Streetwise Magazine