Steel is a good reason to say 'Tata' to the EU

4 Apr 2016


Jeremy Corbyn applied pressure on David Cameron last week to recall Parliament over the Tata Steel crisis. Cameron rejected Corbyn's request to recall Parliament because he believed that it would provide opposition parties a platform to attack the government’s handling of the issue. It was therefore a savvy political ploy from the Prime Minister. However, it also demonstrates why the Tata Steel crisis is a compelling reason to vote for Britain to leave the European Union this summer.


The Tata Steel crisis in Port Talbot is a significant issue for the British government. Up to 40,000 workers are at risk of losing their jobs. No potential buyer has emerged yet to help save this plant. Cameron has cancelled his holiday abroad in an attempt to resolve this crisis. Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, cancelled a trip to Australia to assist Cameron in preventing the crisis from escalating further. The Chinese government has not reacted well to the rhetoric of European leaders, who suggest that Chinese firms are dumping steel onto the market. Indeed, the Chinese have placed a 46% levy on steel products coming from Europe. Cameron will now use the nuclear security summit in Washington to talk to his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, about reducing this levy.


However, whilst Britain remains a member of the EU, there is little the British government can do to tackle the Tata Steel crisis. Actions to prevent Chinese dumping need to be taken, but the EU seems incapable of implementing effective measures. Labour MPs who support Brexit recognise that as long as Britain stays part of the EU, the amount of state aid Tata could receive from the government would be restricted by EU laws. This crisis has provided Leave campaigners with plenty of ammunition. Nigel Farage claims that leaving the EU would enable the British government to do more to tackle high energy costs and prevent the Chinese from dumping steel onto the British market. The government is particularly worried that the In campaign will lose support in the North-East and Wales over this issue.


Either way, as long as we are part of the EU, there is little the British government can do to protect the domestic steel industry. Cameron was right not to recall Parliament because there is simply very little the British government can do without the say-so of the European Union. This crisis should therefore provide us with the ideal opportunity to say 'Tata' to the EU on June 23rd.

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