EU loyalists predicting disaster for Britain in general and British carmakers in particular have been left with egg on their faces as new figures show the country growing faster than major EU economies, and Jaguar Land Rover signals huge investments in British manufacturing.
Anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners and Remain-leaning broadcast media outlets have given a great deal of prominence to the recent news that Honda will cut some jobs in Britain and that Nissan will build its new X-Trail SUV in Japan rather than its British facilities, framing the reports in the context of Brexit — despite the link being highly dubious, with problems in the Chinese market and the ongoing travails of the diesel sector appearing to be far more likely culprits for the carmakers’ problems.
News that Aston Martin achieved annual sales of over £1 billion and small carmakers like Morgan Motors have been enjoying significant increases in sales and exports have received much less prominence — as has the latest news that Jaguar Land Rover, still Britain’s number one carmaker, has signalled it will plough hundreds of millions of pounds into advanced manufacturing across the country.
— Jefferson Group (@Jefferson_MFG) February 5, 2018
Remainers and their media allies had previously been excited that Jaguar Land Rover, which has experienced much the same global problems as other carmakers over the past year and was hit particularly hard by the collapse in Chinese sales, would be cutting jobs in Britain — but the latest reports indicate the company remains very much committed to maintaining operations in the country in one form or another.
Specifically, it appears Britain may become something of a hub for its electrification plans, with reports of a new Battery Assembly Centre at Hams Hall in Birmingham, and the production of electric drive train units being earmarked for the Wolverhampton Engine Manufacturing Centre.
Aston Martin Says British Car Trade Will Benefit from ‘No Deal’ Brexit https://t.co/9xmBgWrRq6
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 29, 2018
Curiously, politicians and journalists concerned about the potential impact of Brexit on British carmaking have had little to say about the actual impact of EU membership on British carmaking.
For example, Jaguar Land Rover was been enticed to move thousands of jobs out of Britain and into Slovakia — where it can take advantage of a comparatively low-wage labour force — with the help of £110 million in state aid, which received the EU’s blessing, well before the EU referendum took place.
As both Britain and Slovakia are EU member-states, the British government was powerless to play hardball by, for instance, threatening to put tariffs on Slovakia-made cars — a tactic U.S. President Donald Trump has used to stop corporations from outsourcing American jobs.
Similarly, the European Investment Bank was helping Ford to move Transit van production from Southampton to Turkey — which is in the EU’s customs union for manufactured goods — as long ago as 2012, with a cheap loan worth tens of millions of pounds.
Neither development appeared to provoke much reaction from europhile commentators.
So, for completeness — and to keep Giles of the FT abreast of the facts — here is updated table, comparing GDP Q4 2018 with Q4 2017:
UK + 1.3%
France + 0.9%
With exception of Canada, much as my original. What was the fuss? https://t.co/p0S6tGJqOe
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) March 2, 2019