Liberty House Group chairman Sanjeev Gupta, the man currently being touted as the saviour of Britain’s steel industry has made energy prices a deal breaker for the future of the Port Talbot steelworks. Mr Gupta pointed out that UK energy prices are among the highest in the world; twice as high as those in France and Germany.
However, according to Professor Calvin Jones from Cardiff Business School, Port Talbot may be finished anyway:
“The UK government (and some in Europe) have, by blocking tariff increases on Chinese steel, actively colluded in the downfall of EU Steel in order to protect the affordability of the consumer durables that help prop up a fundamentally broken Western consumption model of growth…
“It is with absolutely no pleasure that I suggest that if Port Talbot is to close – and it will – it may be better done now when we can squeeze every remedial rupee possible out of a rich corporate owner. The alternative will be the death of a thousand cuts for the next decade or more, with the public sector left to clean up the eventual mess, and in the meantime no one able to develop a positive, sustainable vision for Port Talbot.”
Earlier this week, EFF the Manufacturers Organisation raised concerns about the impact of high energy prices on the profitability of what remains of Britain’s atrophied manufacturing base. However, there is absolutely nothing in the government’s energy plans to offer even a glimmer of a chance of lower energy prices. On the contrary, plans for new nuclear and new gas power stations, together with grants and subsidies for North Sea oil and gas and onshore fracking, guarantee energy prices of more than double those of today within a decade… and even then, the National Grid cannot guarantee to supply continuous power to businesses.
The most likely outcome is that we will lose the last remnants of our manufacturing base. After which, I imagine the Chinese will do to us what our Victorian ancestors did to them for most of the nineteenth century.