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Sunday 3 April 2016

Sajid Javid - Pants On Fire

Business Secretary Sajid Javid appeared before the host’s inquisition on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning, and was instantly tripped up over the Government’s support for the UK’s steel industry. We would do everything we could, he told Marr. Would that mean a guarantee that the Port Talbot plant would stay open? Er, we would do everything we could, he repeated, sounding markedly less convincing as he did so.
Things did not improve when Javid was quizzed about whether other industries should use UK steel in preference to that from, oh I dunno, how about China? Crossrail had used UK steel, he asserted, but that was past tense, and there was no commitment to perhaps bringing forward the construction phase of HS2 to ensure the continuing use of home produced steel. And then the interview moved on to tariffs and dumping.

Marr put it to Javid that the Tories had blocked moves to enable EU member states to impose tariffs on cheap Chinese steel. The Business Secretary was having none of that: he had done no such thing. But it seems he spoke with distinctly forked tongue, as the UK declined the EU’s suggestion that state aid to our own steel industry was permissible - last December. And it got worse - a lot worse.

Anti-dumping measures were blocked by the UK as recently as February. Moreover, the UK insisted that the EU move to grant China so-called “market economy status” at the same time. On top of that, Javid admitted to have been involved in talks with Tata Steel, owners of the Port Talbot plant now facing closure, for some months, and that he had known of the company’s decision to sell before he went off to Australia last week.

And it gets yet worse: Axel Eggert, head of the European Steel Association, which represents every steel producer on the continent, has confirmed to the FT that the UK had obstructed moves to shut out cheap Chinese Steel. He told “The UK is the ringleader in a blocking minority of member states that is preventing a European Commission proposal on the modernisation of Europe’s trade defence instruments”.

The FT goes on, with characteristic understatement, to say “The accusations that Britain’s hostility to trade restrictions is partly responsible for the crisis that has now put 15,000 workers at Tata Steel UK at risk are potentially damaging to David Cameron’s Government”. It will not have helped Javid that shadow chancellor John McDonnell preceded him on the Marr Show and put a reasonably coherent plan for moving forward from the current crisis. Javid’s lack of candour has now compounded the mess.

The French and Italians have also pointed the finger at the UK as the main culprit in blocking overhaul of EU anti-dumping rules. On a purely economic basis, producing steel in the UK may not make sense, but we now have tens of thousands of jobs that are dependent on that industry facing a very uncertain future - and no alternative employment in sight. The last thing we need is a minister being economical with the actualité.

Sajid Javid should consider an apology. Or he should consider his position.


rob said...

"“The accusations that Britain’s hostility to trade restrictions is partly responsible for the crisis....................""

Might hostility to trade unions by a certain party also be partly to blame? Talks over sandwiches (or is it country suppers these days?)@ No10 might be out but leaving them beyond the pale doesn't really help does it?

Anonymous said...

And another reason why other Member States won't be so sad to see the UK headibg for the exit this June. Eurosceptics like Hannan say the UK will be like Singapore (what a joke), this way it will be more like Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

Javid of course will not "consider his position."

He's a far right tory. Which means eventually he'll get "consultancies" and "lecture tours" as a nice little subsidised earner. You know, like far right New Labour mass-murderer and war criminal Tony Blair.

Nor could he give a shit about the tens of thousands of lives about to be devastated. If he did, he wouldn't have gone off on a jolly with his daughter to Australia.

The fellow is just a mouthpiece of Canary Wharf/Wall Street, as is loony Soubry.

And, mark my words, the situation is going to get worse, much worse. Capitalism won't stop its theft until it has you paying to breathe, or until it causes yet another war. Meanwhile it will continue to wheel out grovelling weasels like Javid and Soubry. If the Labour Party fails to confront its social duty it will deserve its inevitable fate.

pete c said...

A stinking government like we currently have, with a majority of just 12, should be getting stomped over at every turn by an organised and effective opposition. Would that we had one.

The Labour party seems barely able to confront its own breakfast, let alone anything more substantial.

High time the erstwhile leaders and their cabals remembered why they are where they are.

The voters put them there to fight for a better world. Not to preen and sulk.

Shawlrat said...

Our mate Saj said on Marr "judge me on what I 've actually done "
We are, Saj, we are. That's bugger all then.

rob said...

Were any questions asked about possible illegal dumping into the Pananm?

Recover some of that would help the poor steel workers who suffer while the heads of Government here and elsewhere play.