Ross Clark

It’s business as usual in the post-Brexit world

It's business as usual in the post-Brexit world
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Remember how Brexit was going to cost jobs and investment? At times, even Leave campaigners struggled to find the confidence to persuade themselves that European companies would continue to invest in the UK, falling back instead on the argument that Brexit would provide an opportunity to attract investment from elsewhere in the world.

How long ago all that seems now. Today, French train manufacturer Alston has confirmed that it is to build a new £20 million manufacturing plant at Widnes in Cheshire, creating 600 jobs. The plant will refurbish West Coast main line trains and be used as a manufacturing base for future trains for the UK market. Explaining why the vote for Brexit has not changed the company’s view on investing in the UK, UK managing director Nick Crossfield said: 'Other than some of the very limited foreign exchange volatility, we have not seen any major impact to our business. For us, it is business as usual. We are in a business that is based on long-term fundamentals like population growth and industrial development and that continues as before.'

In other words, Brexit or no Brexit, Britain is an extremely important market for a company which makes its living from building and maintaining trains. It is the same decision which German rail engineering firm Siemens has come to: having warned during the referendum campaign that it would withdraw investment in the UK, in July it changed its mind and decided that on the contrary, it would after all plough new money into the UK.

The prospect of factory gates being slammed and chained was nothing more than an idle threat in order to try to persuade us to vote in a way which European companies would have found a little more convenient. But referendum out of the way, they are carrying on doing business in a remarkably similar way to they were before