Thatcher’s ministers knew EU membership was vital in attracting the Japanese carmaker. No one told the public
The sprawling site near Sunderland of the giant Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is a fine-tuned product of Britain’s participation in the European Union. The company’s decision to pull the making of its proposed new X-Trail model out of that plant is a disastrous consequence of the failure to explain this to the British people.
The virtual absence of public explanation about the benefits of EU membership was exploited in the 2016 referendum by the leave campaign, and enabled its proponents to dismiss well-informed warnings, then and now, as scaremongering. Even on Sunday, when Nissan itself explained that Brexit uncertainty was a factor in its decision to build the new SUV in Japan, airtime was still given to Brexit campaigners denying this. Prominent among them, predictably, was Jacob Rees-Mogg, a backbench Conservative MP with no discernible car industry expertise or experience, whose Somerset constituency could hardly be further away from the north-east.