As was widely rumoured on Saturday, Nissan has confirmed that its new model of the X-Trail SUV will be manufactured in Japan, rather than in Sunderland as originally planned.
The news was due to be announced today, but Nissan was pushed to admit it early by the swirling rumours and panic over the weekend.
The company addressed its 7,000 Sunderland staff in a letter that made it clear the decision isn't because of Brexit per se, but that "the continued uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future."
The main factor in the decision is apparently the changing environment for car manufacturers in Europe in the past few years, particularly relating to emissions regulations. Back in 2016, Nissan thought it made good business sense to manufacture the X-Trail in both Sunderland and Kyushu (Japan), particularly after the UK gave it 'reassurances' about life post-Brexit, but that's no longer the case.
The government is apparently considering pulling a reported £60m support package for Nissan as a result of the news.
On the bright side, no jobs will be lost here in the UK. The Sunderland factory has been up and running since 1986 and is predominantly focused on the Qashqai, Leaf and Juke, which will continue. However, the new jobs and investment that would have been implemented as a result of the X-Trail are obviously now not happening, which is a blow to the North East and the country as a whole.
Unite The Union's acting national officer for automotive, Steve Bush, comments:
"The government's mishandling of the transition away from diesel allied to the continuing uncertainty around our future trading relationship with the EU are extremely unhelpful when the sector ought to be focussed on preparations for electrification and industry 4.0.
While this decision is naturally not good news we want to reassure our members that job levels at the plant will remain the same even though they are being cut elsewhere in the industry.
However, we remain seriously concerned though that the apprenticeships and additional jobs that come with future investment and which this community so desperately needs will be lost."
Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central, adds:
"The uncertainty around Brexit is always a factor now in any decisions made in manufacturing."
Not just manufacturing, either. It's basically impossible to plan anything major for the post-Brexit period, because no one has a clue what's going to happen.
Please let it end soon.
Main image: Colin via Flickr CC