A North East member of the European Parliament has reacted with ‘great sadness’ to news that British Steel has collapsed, costing thousands of jobs directly and tens of thousands indirectly in the supply chain, many on Teesside. Jonathan Arnott, a Brexit Party-supporting MEP who is not seeking re-election, said:
“British Steel is a truly iconic company in the UK. It is so sad to see it placed into insolvency today, something which could have been avoided were it not for the policies of successive governments. Jobs have already been lost in the steel industry in Redcar with the collapse of SSI; the loss of British Steel will have a further devastating impact upon the local community.
“There are many causes of today’s collapse. The government has no control over one of them – mismanagement by the leadership of British Steel. But other factors have been driven by policy at European level. The UK government was powerless under EU State Aid legislation to provide further support to allow British Steel time to continue and recover.
“Furthermore, counterproductive EU climate change legislation is leading to British pollution being outsourced. Whilst UK carbon emissions have fallen dramatically in recent years, the most polluting industries are being outsourced to countries with lower standards. The destruction of our steel industry is, perversely, probably leading to an increase in carbon emissions as pollution will be greater when the same steel is produced in China or India.
“Theresa May’s Brexit deal is so bad that it wouldn’t actually have made a difference to this: she pledged alignment both to EU state-aid legislation and to the EU’s counterproductive climate policy. This only serves to highlight the wrong-headedness of a half-hearted Brexit deal that doesn’t deliver on our independence and sovereignty.
“In the short term, the government needs to give serious consideration not just to those who lose jobs at British steel, but also to contractors who still do not know whether they will be paid for work already done, to the tens of thousands within the supply chain who will also lose their jobs, and to the impact upon our community.”