The Brexit Party has announced its “common sense”, long term plan to rescue ailing British Steel, what they call a strategic national industry.
Party Chairman Richard Tice, speaking exclusively to Breitbart News in advance of a policy launch at British Steel’s Scunthorpe headquarters, said that the troubled company was a strategic national interest which could only be preserved with imaginative long term capital investment.
Steel is a strategic national interest. Our view is that we in this country our government should be able to decide what is required to protect, preserve and invest in such ventures. And of course as we all know if you’re a member of the European Union under state aid rules you can’t do anything which is why we’re in the pickle we’re in.
Currently the government is running around trying to find private sector buyers to keep it going. Well, all you’re doing is retread of the existing situation where Graybill bought it for a pound from Tata. We’ve got two blast furnaces in this country. When you shut down a blast furnace, it’s terminata, when it goes cold that’s it.
So what’s needed is a completely different type of structure. What we call a Strategic National Corporation, which would be a blend of long-term patient government capital, private sector capital and expertise, as well as some employee motivational involvement in the corporation so that actually the employees themselves benefit as they improve productivity. We think that is the sort of approach that government should be taking for things like steel.
Now you might find that unusual for what is considered to be a party on the right. But it’s what we call common sense politics.
This is The Brexit Party’s first policy announcement since its runaway victory in the EU elections – and the first indication of its direction of travel post-Brexit.
Of course, as its critics will no doubt eagerly point out, The Brexit Party does not have a single seat in Westminster yet – and so is hardly in a credible position to announce policy decisions it has no way of implementing.
Its position, though, may well have improved by Thursday evening when The Brexit Party’s candidate Mike Greene is the bookies’ favourite (at 8/11) to win the Peterborough by-election – and with it its first seat in Westminster.
Construction on U.S. Steel’s mill in was suspended in 2015. It will use “election arc furnaces,” which make steel from scrap metal instead of iron ore. They're more energy efficient than traditional blast furnaces, and they can be restarted once shut down. https://t.co/oFb6WIuVg4
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 11, 2019
The British Steel policy is likely to generate mixed feelings among The Brexit Party’s would-be supporters.
Classical liberal purists – and the Brexit Party is, remember, defined in its constitution as a “classical liberal” party – may well object to the idea of the state bailing out uncompetitive industry or picking winners.
But the move does accord with the nationalistic instincts of many Brexit voters, is certainly a sympathetic response to the plight of the 4,000 skilled workers whose jobs are directly at risk from British Steel’s collapse, and is probably not dissimilar to the kind of thing Donald Trump would do.
Whichever way you cut it, as the Brexit Party pointed out at their Tuesday morning launch event for the policy, saving British Steel through these means is not possible because of the nation’s membership of the European Union which strictly rules against state aid. Further, Brexit MEP John Longworth has said the government should not wait until after the United Kingdom leaves the EU to engage in this rescue, but to ignore European Union rules now as the country is leaving the bloc in October anyway.