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Nissan, Brexit and the state of journalism

Guido Fawkes has a smart observation about the recent announcement by Japanese carmaker Nissan that it will not produce a new model from its plant in the UK’s Northeast. This has produced a storm, with people claiming that this shows the UK’s move towards independence from Brussels is a mistake, and that all those thick Northerners who voted for Brexit were misled, and will suffer, etc, etc.

However, there’s a big fat problem with this “a pox on Brexit” narrative. If moving out of the snug embrace of the EU and its Single Market is such a dumb idea, only to be entertained by fools or knaves, etc, why hasn’t Nissan relocated to France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, or some of the other benighted states of the EU, rather than produce the new models in far-away Japan?

Guido also mentions EU emission standards and other issues as a factor for the firm pulling out. Of course, it may be that one reason why not a single other EU state appeals to the folks in Tokyo is the high labour costs and restrictions of doing business in these places (imagine Italy, for instance!), but if that’s true, then the Single Market’s alleged charms aren’t enough to outweigh the Big Government features of the EU’s constituent members. The EU is, in this sense, stagnating under the weight of its own bureaucracy.

Guido asks why Sky News and others haven’t asked the kind of questions asked here, but that misses how for much of the UK media, to ask these questions assumes a level of objectivity and understanding of business that simply isn’t encouraged in journalists today. (I should know, as I have been a financial reporter, but being a crazed libertarian I just about avoided the infection when I was being trained.) Most UK journalists regard business with suspicion and tend to tilt left politically, in my experience. So points about regulation and red tape encouraging a firm to move from A to B just don’t compute. As a result, the questions aren’t asked. (Just imagine, if you will, how the average Western journalist would react to a book such as this, by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute, defending banking and modern finance. You just know what the response will be.)

A few months ago, a US-based commodities and derivatives business, ICE, decided to pull certain futures contracts out of London and back to Chicago, because the costs of complying with EU regulations known as MiFID II were so great they outweighed the benefits of being in the Single Market. As the regulatory process gets worse (I see zero desire to reverse it), the presumed desirability for non-EU countries to be involved will wane. This is a point that we cannot expect the likes of the BBC, or Financial Times, Economist or most of the rest to grasp. And part of the reason is the mindset of the journalists who work for these entities.

9 comments to Nissan, Brexit and the state of journalism

  • Flubber

    Something else ignored by “journalists” are the effects of the proposed internet copyright directives. Its a wholesale attempt to kneecap independent/amateur journalism.

    The EU’s attempts at censorship, on top of those of the internet giants, portend a dim future for free speech.

  • John

    Nissan actually means – made in Japan.

  • Paul Marks

    There is not a single pro independence television station in the United Kingdom – government bodies (such as “Ofcom”) actually FORBID pro independence television stations.

    A person is on one side or the other of this conflict – there is no “unbiased” or “objective” or “scientific” position on all this, you are for independence or against it. And government regulations (demanding this fictional “unbiased” and “objective” nonsense – as-defined-by the “liberal” establishment elite) de facto mean that every single television station is AGAINST independence.

    As for this specific matter…

    Japan is NOT in the European Union – moving production to JAPAN is not a vote of confidence in the so called “single market” of the European Union.

    Nor, of course, is moving trading to CHICAGO – as this city is NOT in the European Union.

  • Sam Duncan

    “assumes a level of objectivity and understanding of business that simply isn’t encouraged in journalists today.”

    I think it was Nassim Nicholas Taleb who pointed out that although the natural assumption of the general public is that financial journalists must be insiders with an intimate knowledge of the workings of finance, first and foremost they’re journalists.

    “Something else ignored by “journalists” are the effects of the proposed internet copyright directives. Its a wholesale attempt to kneecap independent/amateur journalism.”

    Oh, yes. We can only hope that we leave before it’s “transposed” into UK law. Fortunately I think that’s likely. Unfortunately, I have no confidence that the shysters in Parliament won’t either agree to implement it anyway or pass something similar off their own bats.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Paul, a person can be objective and try to ask the difficult questions, rather than allow a topic to be handled in a cliched way, which I see far too often.

    A lot of this also is simple laziness.

  • pete

    UK manufacturing declined remorselessly during our time in the EEC/EC/EU.

    Using the same correlation is causation logic so beloved of Remainers when it comes to telling us why Europe has been at peace during the existence of the bloc, we can safely say that this decline must have been caused by our membership.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Excellent point

  • Runcie Balspune

    The same argument applied when companies stated they’d be moving their “European HQ” out of the UK because of Brexit. The converse of this, that companies whose European HQ was already outside of the UK would now need to open a UK office, was ignored.

  • Paul Marks

    Good point J.P.

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