Home » News/Views » Steel and industry

Steel and industry

The current crisis in steel (see article No energy policy = no British industry) is a perfect example of the debacle facing Britain as a whole. First we have a formerly nationalised industry being privatised, then inevitably finding its way into foreign hands. What long-term interest can Tata of India or Sahaviriya Steel Industries of Thailand possibly have in a sustainable British steel industry?

Secondly, we have the European Union, whose rules on state aid form a perfect screen for the government to hide behind. The EU is dead set against nations being able to plan for the continued viability of their vital industries.

Thirdly, we have the complicity of our own government. True, the rules are there, and very damaging they are too. But the government will not even try to support British steel.

Listen to Gareth Stace from industry body UK Steel. “In Germany, government is the friend of industry,” he says. “Here, you wonder what is behind the rhetoric of a northern powerhouse if a company like SSI in Redcar can be allowed to go out of business.”

And then we have the hypocrisy of the separatists. SNP leader and EU groupie Nicola Sturgeon has “pledged” to save the steel industry (in Scotland only). Yet Scotland’s biggest infrastructure project of recent times, the new road bridge over the River Forth at Queensferry, was built with steel from China ordered by the Scottish government.

Finally, we have high energy costs – a big factor for energy-intensive industries such as steel. These in turn are a consequence of privatisation and the removal of controls, with foreign (often state-owned) companies free to charge far more than they can in their own countries.

Our future depends on having industries like steel. If you want an argument against the EU and for sovereignty, look no further.