Insolvency of British Steel seems to have escaped notice of leave/remain-obsessed parties

Tories abdicate responsibility in collapse of strategic industry while other parties focus on obsession with Brexit or at best try to exploit disaster to score points


The news that British Steel has entered insolvency seems to have bypassed the parties obsessed with Brexit or stopping Brexit.

As of the time of writing, Nigel Farage’s Brexit party has made no mention of the problem on its social media feed, Small wonder, since Farage has offered no policies apart from leaving the EU and his known political positions make a mockery of any claim to represent the working class:

Meanwhile, as the excellent Matt Thomas observed this morning, the pro-remain parties are doing what they do – obsessing over stopping Brexit:

Where British Steel is getting a mention from them at all, it’s being exploited to – you’ve guessed it – try to stop Brexit.

Meanwhile, Labour has announced its plan to save the UK’s steel industry.

Vote Labour tomorrow. Vote Labour every time there’s a vote.

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  1. Following the imposition of tariffs, 2 of every 3 tons of Chinese steel destined for the USA is now en route for Europe. Neither the USA nor China play by the same trade rules but the Tories have said they cannot nationalise British Steel because it will infringe EU competition rules: only Labour has a policy that will protect the jobs in Scunthorpe and elsewhere. The idea that there is a “free market” has been shown to be nonsense by these shenanigans. The company’s owners, a vulture fund called Greybull (infamous because they also owned Monarch Airlines and Comet electrical stores!) have a knack of making money from failing companies, which is promptly moved to offshore tax havens, then screwing/blackmailing governments/taxpayers for bailouts.


    1. “…but the Tories have said they cannot nationalise British Steel because it will infringe EU competition rules”.

      As Victoria Nuland said during the Ukraine coup, Fuck the EU!

  2. Actually, EU law considerations are extremely important when it comes to steel nationalisation. Under EU law (and in the EEA Single Market) governments must run nationalised companies in conformity with the “market operator principle” i.e. like any other private firm, not being granted special privileges. Otherwise, competitor firms have a legal remedy to complain that the Labour Government is providing an unlawful State Aid which must be immediately repaid.

    This neoliberal provision enshrined in the Treaty drives a coach and horses through any serious democratic socialist industrial programme.

    For good measure EU and EEA law also rules out nationalisation of the entire steel sector, Labour’s post-war policy. This would be unlawful as a disproportionate limitation on the Freedom of Establishment of EU corporations (to establish branches and subsidiaries in the UK).


  3. The collapse of British Steel and its knock on effect on the community and local businesses is devastating. The government refused to assist the company and now we will have thousands more unemployed with little or no chance of getting decent jobs in their home town ever again. Many of the workers affected are also facing the loss of their homes as statistics show most people are only 4 pay cheques away from homelessness. Neither will there be any jobs for the next generation of workers- the whole thing is a total disaster.
    Had we had the opportunity to renationalise British Steel this would never have happened and the people now facing a lifetime of unemployment and poverty would instead have had a decent future to look forward to.
    This is just one example which illustrates why we need a Labour government and the sooner the better.

  4. “Tories abdicate responsibility in collapse of strategic industry while other parties focus on obsession with Brexit ”

    What did we say?

    Look out for more diversionary danmage from the Tory Brexit project as it wreaks its economic harm.

  5. British Steel drives a coach and horses through red Tory snowflake neverenders argument for staying in the EU
    We would never be allowed to implement the manifesto
    Forget remain and vote for conference motion, vote Labour and brino, bring in a government who will address the causes of Brexit, invest in our industries and communities
    Stop enabling Austerity and neo liberal casino economics

  6. There is a lot in the MSM about how British Steel is now in administration because of Brexit. Actually, Brexit is not the cause and it is lazy journalism to say so. The reason British Steel is in liquidation is because it is run by venture capitalists that simply want to asset strip everything they buy. It is also the case that without an industrial policy that promotes and supports British manufacturing there were always going to be problems after TATA took over the other plants. We can blame politicians from all parties for building landmark projects with taxpayers money without any restrictions on which building materials to use. For instance, Wembley Stadium built without British Steel, Cardiff Stadium, 02 Arena, the list can go on and on! Not using British Steel for armed forces procurement is another area. The amount needed to save British Steel is less than the cost of redundancy and benefits payments but of course our neoliberal elite don’t think about such things. The communities suffering from this imbocilic decision will remember those who fought for them and those who shrugged their shoulders and did nothing. More than ever we need a Labour Government.

    1. Procurement policy for all large contracts , for services and materials like steel, is governed by strict EU rules – ie, put out to EU-wide tender – and the lowest price wins . So it currently isn’t possible for a UK government to preferentially support its steel industry – Or give it subsidies . the Eu doesn’t recognise the basic concept of “defending core strategic industries” . The market rules.

      Many, many, years ago now , in the late 1980’s in fact, as an earlier iteration of the overhyped Labour Council strategy that is known as the much lauded “Preston model” of localist economic development (camouflaging outsourcing in most cases – by transferring council services to workers co-ops – but also claiming to pursue a local supply chain policy) , the new incoming Left-led Lothian Regional council announced a very “Preston model” economic strategy. I worked in the Council to pursue that. On “local supply chains” we quickly found that EU rules demanded that any supply contract above a piffling figure , had to be tendered in the EU-wide European Journal . Very little Council-led local supply chain development was achieved.

      Most people have no idea just how wide ranging a block on even modest “Leftish” localist or indeed national, economic development the Single Market Rules are. Sadly most of our supposedly “Corbynista” Left Liberal members just don’t seem to care, as long as they can feel all “internationalist ” and progressive by buying into the fiction that the EU is some sort of benevolent institution of freedom and enlightenment.

      1. jpenney 22/05/2019 at 2:29 pm

        …and yet Preston seems to have managed it.

  7. “Brexit is not the cause”

    No. But it is a major contributory factor. All the righteous indignation and blame casting in the world won’t change that.

    1. Christopher Fox 22/05/2019 at 1:48 pm · · Reply →

      For instance, Wembley Stadium built without British Steel, Cardiff Stadium, 02 Arena, the list can go on and on!

      Aye. IIRC Middlesbrough FC had to spew a sponsorship deal with british steel when it was discovered their (Then new) riverside stadium was built with cheaper imported steel!!

      RH 22/05/2019 at 2:16 pm · · Reply →

      No. But it is a major contributory factor.

      It WOULD be if we produced as much as Germany, France or Italy. We only produce something like 4% IIRC of total EU output and we’re about 8th on the list.

      That’s because the industry – as Christoper quite rightly says – has been asset-stripped to the bare bones; all with the EU’s blessing and encouragement.

      1. “the industry ….has been asset-stripped”

        I don’t disagree with you (you’ll be surprised to know). But getting out of the situation will not be assisted by Brexit. The asset-stripping is home-grown. The solution requires a larger confederation than a single national state.

    2. Complete Bollocks as usual RH. Brexit has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the long term collapse of the UK steel industry, or the inevitable collapse of the Scunthorpe plant under the ownership of short-termist vulture capitalists. It is a financial sector-captured , neoliberal Tory government, uninterested in manufacturing industry, or economic strategic planning, happy to operate within EU competition policy , including the State Aid rules, (which makes it nigh on impossible for a nation state to protect it’s vital core industries), PLUS of course steel dumping by China on an humungous scale* – sold below the costs of production, to blame. You are not just a tiresome Troll, but an economic illiterate and clown, RH.

      * China produced more steel over the last two years than the UK has done in its ENTIRE industrial economic history. That illustrates the scale of oversupply in the capitalist global marketplace.

      1. Ha’penny – your myopic vision coupled with brain-dead shoutiness is ample confirmation of innate lack of substance.

      2. “the scale of oversupply in the capitalist global marketplace”

        … and you really think that a small mid-Atlantic floating island of debris called ‘the UK’ will turn this around? Particularly when it has minimal influence on its major trading bloc?

        Dream on. Nobody here is claiming perfection for the current dogma expressed in the EU set-up. The issue is about changing the weather rather than being even more subject to it – which is what not-so splendid isolation entails.

  8. The consensus is we need to Leave and reform the EU
    It’s a basic question can we implement manifesto under current EU competition laws,
    And I would like Paul Mason, Twatson and Tony Blair to answer
    Survation only polling company to get it right in 2017 predict Labour victory in next GE,
    2017 was a natural progression from shock of Cameron majority in 2015 and led to JC victory in 2016
    The party and the country were screaming out for clear red water, they still are,
    Brexit is a temporary but necessary evil and entirely the responsibility of the poisonous cheap and nasty party,
    I voted leave to support Labour party and changes we intend to make in this country, not least addressing the causes of Brexit
    Time for middle class neverenders to suffer the consequences of their arrogance, that they know best ,
    Im sorry but off you must fuck, or at the very least shut up
    One point Paul Mason makes in his latest NS article that I agree wth, he supports the idea that red Tories will keep their heads down to get
    re elected under Labour banner then hold party hostage further down the line,
    Which brings us full circle, do we encourage the enemy within to follow tinge group or are we ready to deselect them the moment a GE is called
    Top tip, you can run both strategies alongside each other, its called ‘critical path analyses’ me cares not a jot as long as the work is done, starting today,
    Sack Hodge, not for encouraging Labour supporters to vote for other parties, but for bringing 200 vexatious claims of anti semitism

    1. …Time for middle class neverenders to suffer the consequences of their arrogance, that they know best ,
      Im sorry but off you must fuck, or at the very least shut up…


      1. You mean the majority of the Labour Party? Great idea : leave the field open to Tories and the joke left (who are in compliant agreement).

        “off you must fuck, or at the very least shut up…”

        BTW … that was a classically arrogant comment – worthy of the any common-or-garden fascist 🙂

    2. Oh dear, Doug – :

      “The party and the country were screaming out for clear red water”

      So that’s why we ended up with a Tory government? Thanks for the clarification.

      .. and all those other insights about betrayal and ‘shutting up’, the ‘middle class’ (the majority core of the Labour Party) and … yadda, yadda, yadda … as well as the ‘enemy within’ clinical paranoia.

  9. Greybull is the investment arm for two mega rich families. Not only do they charge British Steel management fees they also lend them money at above the commercial rate and restrict their options to go elsewhere. I don’t believe we should have a second referendum but loved this piece of logic from Tory MP David Evans,” by changing her position to allow a second referendum Mrs May is betraying all who voted the first time and is totally disrespecting democracy.” His solution is to seek a change in Tory party rules to allow a second vote of no confidence in her leadership.

  10. Why don’t you address the facts put to you RH? As jpenney points out, on one side our hands are tied by EU regs, which stem from the myths of “globalisation is good,” “the market determines the price” and “free trade,” and on the other we’re facing a flood of subsidised Chinese steel, made under a totally different system and playing by totally different rules, exacerbated by a US government who also refuse to play by the same rules. The EU might eventually wake up to the way it’s being conned but by that time there might not be any coffee left to smell.

    1. jpenney’s points are undermined because he cites as evidence the council where he once worked (in the 80s ) that for whatever reason was unable to implement anything successfully but on the other hand he seeks to undermine the success of Preston a current example of things working. It is worth noting that both Corbyn and McDonnell are very enthusiastic about using Preston as a template for other Local Authorities.

      “Preston named as most improved city in UK
      This article is more than 6 months old
      Labour-run council with localist economic policies tops Good Growth for Cities index ”

      “Although this predated the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, the lessons from the city have become central to the party’s economic thinking. It featured in a pamphlet on alternative models of ownership commissioned by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and has been described by the Economist magazine as the “poster child of Corbynomics”.

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