Some campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union (EU) have warned Prime Minister David Cameron that the government’s handling of the ongoing steel crisis risks losing the June referendum, as Brexit supporters prepare hundreds of thousands of leaflets targeting affected communities.
Leaflets being produced by the pro-Brexit Grassroots Out campaign will tell those affected by Tata’s recently-announced decision to sell off its British steel assets that the UK could take action if it were not part of the EU.
With an estimated 40,000 jobs affected by the move, the former Labour Welsh secretary and Member of Parliament (MP) for Neath, Lord Hain, has admitted the arguments are damaging the pro-EU argument, reports The Guardian.
Lord Hain, who also chairs Welsh Labour’s pro-Europe campaign, warned:
“The Tories’ abject incompetence and arrogance over the steel crisis is toxic on the doorstep in Wales where they are widely blamed…
“…But more important for Britain’s future, by mishandling steel David Cameron is in danger of losing the Europe referendum because the EU is quite falsely also being blamed for the steel crisis.”
Lord Hain claimed that blaming the EU was false because other members of the politico-trading bloc, like Germany, France, Holland and Sweden, manage to maintain viable steel industries.
Contradicting Lord Hain, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said his Labour administration is unable to help with significant tax cuts tailored to the Port Talbot steelworks because of the EU, specifically the rule that “business rates targeted at particular sectors are considered to be selective state aid”.
Conservative MP and Grassroots Out leading light, Peter Bone, said the specially-targeted leaflets being distributed among the communities hit by the crisis will simply read: “If you want to save the steel industry, vote leave”. He explained:
“The thing about the steel crisis is that it illustrates the problem with the EU in a very practical manner.
“If we were out of the EU, we could put quotas on, we could put tariffs on, we could do exactly what the American president is doing, we could do what the Chinese are doing — putting on huge tariffs. And that would stop dumping.”