Brexit to blame for collapse of British Steel says LEP chair Lord Haskins

Brexit has been blamed for the demise of British Steel by one of Yorkshire’s top business leaders.

Workers leave the steelworks plant in Scunthorpe following a shift change as owner British Steel is to go into official recievership after failing to secure funds for its future. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 22, 2019. More than 150,000 UK steel jobs have been lost since the 1980s, according to a new study. In 1981 the industry employed 186,000 workers but the total has now slumped to around 32,000, said the GMB union. See PA story INDUSTRY Steel. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Lord Haskins, chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, said that the threat of a no deal Brexit and ongoing uncertainty regarding our future trading relationship with Europe has made it very hard for the business to obtain long-term contracts

British Steel, which employs 5,000 people in the UK with the majority based in Scunthorpe, is currently going through compulsory liquidation.

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Lord Haskins, who is working alongside business secretary Greg Clark to try and sell the business, said: “The main problem with British Steel, and why were are in the mess we are in, is because of Brexit.

Lord Chris Haskins Head shot inset on the LEP column pg7 YP business.

“For example, 23 per cent all their sales are into Europe. And who is going to write a five year contract with them?

“And if Boris has his way, the tariff on steel into Europe goes up to 23 per cent then that is a show stopper.

“How is the Government going to deal with that?”

Lord Haskins made his remarks during a session of the Yorkshire All Party Parliamentary Group at PwC’s offices in Leeds during which he praised the way in that Yorkshire’s economy had reinvented itself during the decades he has worked in the region.

This photo taken on December 8, 2017 at the European Commission in Brussels shows the British national flag raised on a flagpole next to flags of the European Union. Britain and the EU reached a historic deal on December 8 on the terms of the Brexit divorce after the British Prime Minister rushed to Brussels for early morning talks. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

“I came here 60 years ago as a technology student from Dublin.

“At that time Leeds had a thriving textile industry, Sheffield had a huge manufacturing centre, Hull had a huge fishing sector, there were mines all over the place - all of these have gone in the last 50 years and yet we have survived that trauma.”

Lord Haskins said that a huge opportunity for the region’s economy lay in renewable energy, particularly given recent steep increases in targets to reduce carbon emissions.

“We created all the problems 150 years ago in the North of England when we invented the Industrial Revolution, courtesy of coal.

“Now it is our job to create another Industrial Revolution courtesy of green energy and we are in a huge position to do that.”

Elsewhere Lord Kirkhope told business leaders that a One Yorkshire devolution settlement had the best chance of success owing to the strength of the Yorkshire brand.

“The truth is we need to think of it though the eyes of people who are investing in Yorkshire.

“Are they going to do that more if its is Yorkshire or whether it is a Balkanised set of groups of local authorities who may have mayors or not have mayors.

“The answer is no.”