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Brexit camp exploits Tata Steel sell-off plan

world Updated: Apr 04, 2016 18:41 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Britain

File photo of London mayor Boris Johnson.(AFP)

London mayor Boris Johnson has picked on the David Cameron government’s allegedly inconsistent handling of Tata Steel’s decision to sell its UK assets as part of the Brexit camp’s wider argument against Britain’s membership of the European Union.

A leading member of the Brexit camp ahead of the June 23 referendum, Johnson used his Monday column in The Daily Telegraph to score points over business secretary Sajid Javid, who is at the centre of government efforts to deal with the steel industry’s dire situation.

Johnson wrote: “Take the glut of Chinese steel. It seems that the EU Commission has been considering a broad range of anti-dumping measures for some time. It is also clear that before Tata took the decision to close Port Talbot, the UK was one of the countries to be lobbying against such tariffs.

“Some have suggested that this was out of a general desire to suck up to the Chinese; others that it was a principled aversion to tariffs, and recognition that such import duties would hit domestic consumers of steel.

“Since the Port Talbot crisis blew up, the story seems to have changed. We are now told that the UK does indeed favour anti-dumping measures, though not of the kind that the EU Commission has been proposing.”

Johnson added: “The result? Probably nothing. Nothing will happen in the near future, if ever, because there is no agreement round the table in Brussels. Even when we want to change tack on tariffs, we can’t – because we have given up control.”

There were calls for Javid to resign after his admission on television on Sunday that the scale of Tata Steel’s decision came as a surprise to him while he was holidaying with his teenage daughter in Australia. He rushed back to London after the sell-off plans were announced.