Presented with business concerns that the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson’s response was reportedly unprintable, but for once completely accurate.
It certainly would “f*** business”, and it would be devastating if Airbus, which employs 14,000 people across 25 sites, went even halfway in delivering on a threat to pull out of the UK.
Yet we now have a situation where ministers have resigned from government over the Heathrow expansion to defend their constituents’ right to a good night’s sleep, while some of their colleagues practically dare a major employer to destroy the jobs of thousands of skilled workers. The problem with Brexit is that the moment when the bird hits the aircraft engine is still far enough away to let politicians play dumb. However, the man who Johnson would have leading Brexit negotiations – Donald Trump – is delivering immediate impact.
The Mid Continent Nail Corporation is the last major manufacturers of nails in the US, accounting for half of domestic production. With 500 staff, it is one of the biggest employers in Butler County, Missouri – where 79 per cent of voters backed Trump in the 2016 general election and every local official from sheriff to dogcatcher is a Republican.
Until now, the firm was an international success story: its parent company, the Mexican multinational steel producer Deacero, benefitted from cross-border economies of scale while maintaining its American workforce and production. But Mid Continent Nail has just laid off its entire temporary workforce of 60, and will shed another 200 permanent jobs by August if Trump’s steel tariffs remain in place.
Brexit has already deeply undermined British parliamentary democracy. If it comes to pass that ministers and local MPs put ideology over the welfare of their constituents – in the style of Trump – it would surely be the final nail in the coffin, as workers in Butler County are learning.