Steel Industry dominates the headlines
“Going through the motions”: The Financial Times reports that “Tata is going through the motions” of seeking a buyer for Port Talbot. But the paper reports that Tata has been looking for a buyer for eighteen months, and has effectively given up hope. Given the massive losses at the plant, and the global outlook for steel in the face of vast Chinese over-production, the prospects seem bleak. I spent decades on the marketing business, and I struggle to see how you would develop a credible sales pitch for a UK steel plant.
Sajid Javid feels the heat: The Guardian reports that Business Secretary Sajid Javid, freshly returned from his trip to Australia, was subjected to the anger of steelworkers on his visit to Port Talbot yesterday. Not a surprise, since he had nothing to tell them except the meaningless slogan that “The government would do everything it could” to keep the plant open and find a buyer. While we’re in the EU, there is very little that the government can do, and Javid had no worthwhile proposals to offer.
Cameron confesses he opposed China anti-dumping tariffs: The same Guardian report covers David Cameron’s admission that the UK opposed the application of swingeing anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese steel (remember that the USA has applied tariffs up to 250%+). Cameron has half a point: tariffs on Chinese steel might help UK steel producers, but would hurt steel users who benefit from low Chinese prices. Nonetheless, it is clear that the USA has managed the situation more successfully and far more decisively than the EU. Cameron seeks to justify his position by claiming that the UK argued for higher tariffs on certain sectors of the market, while opposing a blanket imposition of tariffs. Not much comfort there for South Wales.
China applies tariffs against UK steel: In a bizarre move which can only be seen as a deliberate provocation, a two-finger gesture, China has applied tariffs of 46% against certain steel categories made in Korea, Japan – and South Wales. The Times describes this as “a humiliation for the government”, and it is difficult to disagree. Since UK steel exports to China are trivial anyway, it is difficult to see much practical effect from the move, but the effect on public opinion in South Wales will surely be very negative.
Tory feud over NHS & Brexit deepens
The Telegraph has reported a letter from Vote Leave which directly links underfunding of the NHS to Britain’s massive membership fees to the EU, and argues that we should leave the EU and divert the funding to the NHS. A “government source” has accused Matthew Elliott, leader of Vote Leave, of “cynicism”, as Elliott had previously (in his post with The Taxpayers’ Alliance”) called for an end to ring-fencing of the NHS. Nonetheless, Vote Leave has an obvious and valid point. Ending our EU subscription would help our hard-pressed balance-of-payments, and free up funding for other objectives.
Turkey “not ready to process deported migrants”
The BBC and others are reporting serious implementation problems with the EU/Turkey migrant deal. Deportations are scheduled to start this coming week. But there is trouble in the camps on the Greek Islands, and doubts are being raised as to whether Turkey is ready to deal with large numbers of returned migrants. Local residents near a proposed holding centre in Turkey are said to be protesting. This comes against a background of reports that Turkey has been shooting to kill migrants, and also rounding up migrants and deporting them forcibly and illegally to Syria. Human rights organisations are up in arms and insisting that Turkey is not a “safe country” to which migrants can be sent.
Reports from the Greek islands suggest that the promised army of EU administrators to handle the scheme are not yet in place. Hundreds of migrants on the Greek island of Chios have broken out of their detention camp and rampaged through the town. This has all the hallmarks of an EU project. Grandiose plans, inadequate resource and planning, failure of administration, chaos and disorder, squalid and inhuman conditions, unrest and protest, rancour and recrimination.
“Plot to behead British Soldiers”
The Mail reports an ISIS plot to behead soldiers on the streets of Britain. This is linked to the earlier conviction of an ISIS supporter for planning to attack US Servicemen in Britain, but the Mail adds that the terrorists claimed also to have personal details of British Army personnel which they proposed to use to target attacks.
National Health Service? Or International Health Service?
The Daily Express reports that maternity care for mothers from the EU has cost the NHS £1.3 billion over the last ten years. They say 476,000 babies were born to EU mothers between 2005 and 2014 – and amounted to nearly 10% of all live births in 2014.
Many of these mothers will be here for perfectly legitimate reasons, but it is a fair bet that many come for free quality healthcare, and others to establish the British nationality of their child.
The paper quotes Employment Minister Priti Patel: “Rising levels of migration from other EU countries and increasing numbers of children born to those migrants is placing pressure on our services. The growing number of births to women from other EU countries means our population is growing and those children will need schools to go to and other childcare facilities and services. While the UK remains a member of the EU we cannot control the levels of migration from the EU, and the long term impact and pressures it places on this country”. Indeed.
“Navy abandons Falklands”
Not strictly an EU story – until you consider the reluctance of EU member states to support the UK position during the Falklands war in 1982. But the “i” is reporting that ship shortages and maintenance schedules have left the Royal Navy unable to patrol the Falklands. If this is true, it is a scandal – especially at a time when Argentina has been sabre-rattling again. The defence of the realm is the first priority for any government. They said that Cameron didn’t want to go down in history as the Prime Minister who lost Scotland. He’s better make sure he doesn’t go down in history as the prime Minister who lost the Falklands.