Friday 18 October 2019

Farage reminded of claim ‘Remain vote would be end of British steel industry’

The Brexit Party leader’s 2016 tweet suddenly went viral after British Steel’s collapse.

By Stephen Jones, Press Association

A three-year-old tweet came back to haunt Nigel Farage on the day of British Steel’s collapse into liquidation, as opponents reminded him of his prediction that a Remain referendum win would kill off Britain’s steel industry.

In the April 2016 tweet, the Brexit Party leader wrote: “If we vote to Remain on June 23rd it is the end of the steel industry in this country. Simple as that. We must Leave EU.”

The post suddenly gained new traction after it was announced that talks with the Government had failed to secure British Steel’s future, putting at threat thousands of jobs.

British Steel’s owner, Greybull Capital, had blamed a number of Brexit-related issues for its problems as it sought a financial support package to save the company.

After Mr Farage’s tweet resurfaced, Labour MP David Lammy responded: “Simple as that?”

Meanwhile, campaign group Another Europe referenced a cause celebre of Brexiteers, tweeting: “This has aged like a bendy banana left in the sun.”

Speaking during a Telegraph debate with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable earlier in the day, Mr Farage blamed the EU’s European Emissions Trading Scheme for the collapse of the steel firm.

The scheme placed caps on the amount of emissions certain industries, including steelworks, can make during production.

He added: “Right now today, if we wanted as a nation to put money in to save British Steel, we are not allowed to because of EU state aid rules.”

EU rules restrict the amount of state aid allowed in the steel industry, but as UK spending on state aid is relatively low, it is unlikely that this is the sole reason the Government has opted not to provide extra money to British Steel.

UK steel production has reduced dramatically in recent decades, with the number employed in the industry falling from 322,800 in 1971 to 31,800 in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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