The happy Brexiteers have brushed off every bit of bad news, any revelation of job losses. So Jaguar Land Rover moving production to Slovakia was Nothing To Do With Brexit. Bad news from Nissan was Nothing To Do With Brexit. And Honda closing their plant at Swindon with the loss of thousands of jobs, with thousands more dependent on those jobs, was most definitely Nothing To Do With Brexit. So there.
Any warning concerning the disruption of all those Just-In-Time supply chains was dismissed as the mere blustering of Project Fear™. We were British, dammit, and we had survived Two World Wars. We would never surrender to Johnny Foreigner, or indeed reality. We would fight those ghastly European blighters up hill and down Iain Dale.
But now has come a potential upheaval that cannot be dismissed as Nothing To Do With Brexit. Because the news has Brexit front and centre. It’s right there in Very Big Letters Indeed. And it comes, once more, from the car industry - that’s a manufacturing industry which employs lots of people, with lots more employed in those supply chains.
As the Guardian has reported, “French carmaker PSA Group has warned that it will only build its new Vauxhall Astra at its Ellesmere Port plant if the UK avoids a no-deal Brexit, in a stark indication of the importance of trade with the EU to the British car industry … The Astra is the bestselling model under the Vauxhall and Opel brands and will be built in Germany as well as at Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool, if severe Brexit disruption is avoided, PSA said on Thursday”. Note the very large IF there.
What did PSA actually say? “The decision on the allocation to the Ellesmere Port plant will be conditional on the final terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union and the acceptance of the New Vehicle Agreement, which has been negotiated with the Unite trade union.” The Guardian adds “The warning underlined the urgent calls from across the British car industry for a Brexit deal that avoids delays or tariffs at the UK border”.
So how many front pages have featured this news? There was a small item at the foot of the Times front page today. How about those ardent Brexiteers? No Twitter mention of Vauxhall from Nigel “Thirsty” Farage or his smiling sidekick Richard Tice. More importantly, given she represents North West England in the European Parliament, no word either from terrorist sympathiser and genocide denier Claire Fox.
The people at PSA are yet to meet London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, favourite to become the next Prime Minister, and who has committed himself to leaving the EU by the end of October, even if it means not striking a deal with the remaining 27 EU member states before then. It’s almost as if Bozza and his party aren’t fussed about the Vauxhall brand departing the UK for good.
Perhaps if PSA made similar noises about the van plant in Luton which employs around 1,100 - that makes it rather closer to London - the Tories and their press pals might start to wake up. This is exactly the kind of potential job loss they were warned about time after time, but chose to ignore. It would never happen. Well, now it just might.
It was never Project Fear, but Project Reality. Grim Reality. You have been warned.
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