The single market was never a level playing field

I have no problem with the idea that a quoted company can be bid for by potential new owners who value it more or who might run it better than the existing owners. I do have a problem with the U.K. offering this freedom to countries and companies who do not accept the same discipline. I particularly oppose the idea that nationalised industries or foreign states should be able to buy up U.K. based businesses.

One of the unfairnesses of the single market was we offered up most of our large businesses for sale to France and Germany but they offered up very little of theirs in return. Cultural obstacles, different ownership structures, EU rules and Court judgements and different national government approaches meant during our time in the market many of our companies were acquired from the continent whilst U.K. companies made little or no progress with either acquisition or organic growth strategies in the leading EU countries.

Just look at what happened to our building materials industry for example. In the 1970s we had large advanced companies mining China clay, producing cement and ready mix concrete, making tiles, kitchen units, glass, plasterboard, bricks and tarmac. They did pioneering work on ready mix, concrete tiles, glass and other processes. These items make sense to produce locally as transport costs are high and the travel intrusive. They created many jobs in the U.K. and did not add to the import bill.

Redlands tiles was bought up by French Lafarge. Marley Tiles was bought by Belgian Etex. BPB plasterboard was acquired by French St Gobain. Blue Circle Cement was bought by French Lafarge. Ready Mix Concrete was purchased by Mexican Cemex. Hanson Trust with wide ranging building material interests including bricks was taken over by German Heidelberg Cement. Magnet Joinery’s kitchens and other wood products were snapped up by Swedish Nobia. Tarmac’s aggregates and road materials were bought by French Lafarge. English China Clays was acquired by French Imetal. That just left Pilkington Glass with world leading technology to go to the Japanese, and our main scaffolding business to go to the USA.

In the case of the USA Hanson had acquired various materials companies as that is an open market. There were practically no successful U.K. bids for European companies given the constraints, apart from Braas bought by Redland only to be sold back to the continent as part of the sale of the larger group.

As we develop our own free trade and overseas investment policies we need to make sure there is reciprocal access for bids. In areas like defence, data and communications we also need to be aware of the needs of national security. There are some basic competencies and essential areas where we need a domestic capability. The extraordinary story of how the U.K. sold out of practically all its leading building materials shows what can happen if our access is blocked. Once you lose control of the assets you can then be taken on a journey to much more dependence on imports, where you export the jobs elsewhere.

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281 Comments

  1. Adam
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    If the UK is not in control of its affairs, it is not a nation. We should do what is in our interests, not allow anyone in the world to enter our home and buy whatever of our possessions they happen to want.

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Adam

      Agreed!

      We allowed these people into our home and allowed them to take what they wanted. We allowed the French to produce our passports as recently as last year! Why do we allow it to happen?

      JR says that no other countryside sold off much of their industries – so why did the British??!

      It makes no sense! We even sold off our gold and our half of the Channel Tunnel – why?

      It cannot be down to single market rules – if it was France etc would have sold off most of their industries too!!!!

      • Sharon Jagger
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        ‘Countryside’ should read ‘countries’

      • Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        To pay for the £250 Billion that leaves these shores every year! That’s why everything is for sale (aka ‘inward investment’).

      • Iain Moore
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        “– why?”

        Because they had no faith in our country or people , the only ambition they had for our entanglement with the EU was in their words ‘to manage our decline’ . The FCO felt demeaned having to represent a small island, and claimed they allowed us to ‘punch above our weight’ ( how insulting), and felt their talents could be much better used to represent the EU. All the treaties which so constitutionally subordinated us to the EU went through the FCO.

        Mrs T the only leader to have some faith in our country was brought down by a plot that came out of the FCO, but the lack of faith in our country and people is not just a problem with the FCO, its establishment wide, as we see with the Marxists being allowed to run riot on our streets of late, not one , NOT ONE person from the governing classes has seen to fit to defend our history, culture, or nation, instead they are more likely to agree that we are at fault.

        • Posted July 11, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          Iain Moore, I have to point out that both Priti Patel and Sajid Javis both made an effort to denounce the destruction of British infrastructure and 35 police officers were injured on the first day. The various riotous events in various cities by BLM about George Floyd’s arrest and death, injured 100 law-enforcement officers; What kind of mentality is that? When people don’t respect law and order, they don’t deserve to be treated like British citizens and should be deported.

      • Andy
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        It is nothing to do with the EU.

        When you say ‘we’ sold this stuff – most of it was sold by Tory governments, most of which were elected by a minority of voters. Including most of you.

        • NickC
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Andy, It’s everything to do with the EU. Because the EU was primarily set up to benefit French farmers and German industrialists. Britain was always regarded as just a “treasure island” to be milked until we dropped. Because we’ve been run for the last 50 years by people like you, who have lied comprehensively to keep us in your EU empire.

        • UK Qanon
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Gordon Brown sold our gold at a ridiculous price on instructions/dictat from the EU.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          You have a very odd idea of democracy.
          If you add the votes for every party that doesn’t win then that usually comes to more than the winning party.
          Same for nearly all elections in UK history.

          • bill brown
            Posted July 13, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Edward 2

            thank you Constable very deep conclusion

          • Edward2
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            And you reply with no facts just childish abuse.
            Where is your counter argument?
            Just pathetic.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          Royal Mail had to account for EU Directive 2008/6/EC which called for the postal sector to be fully open to competition by 31 December 2012

        • steve
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          Andy

          I think you should take a look at what Blair sold off, before blaming Tory governments.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

            Granted Steve but it wasn’t just Blair- the passport sell off last year – just why? What was the price comparison for the uk less the taxes rates to our country from the uk workforce previously printing them, actually was de la rue even British to collect British corporation tax from?

      • steve
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        Sharon

        “We allowed the French to produce our passports as recently as last year! Why do we allow it to happen?”

        My suspicion would be on the unpatriotic left wing civil servants at the passport office, and their like minded cronies in Westminster.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Well, yes, I find this to be one of John’s more amusing posts, because the UK always was in control of its own affairs as a European Union member, in all that really mattered.

      Where was the law which said that any country had to offer all its assets for sale to any buyer?

      Of course, there never was one passed by the European Union – John would have been enraged if there were – and now he tries to portray that fact as a Bad Thing.

      Rather, what was been exposed are the strategic vulnerabilities to which nations are exposed when they impose market policies – with puritanical fixation – upon themselves.

      That is the consequence of entirely national, party political dogma, promulgated by Johns party and imported from the US. It’s nothing at all to do with the European Union.

      • NickC
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Martin, We have been ruled for half a century by people with your world view: EU better than UK; patriotism is xenophobia. Without shame you still espouse those beliefs.

        As a result we gave away our fish and governance to the EU. And no surprise that governments (europhile Labour and Conservative) allowed the sale (and often the asset stripping) of British companies.

        You condemn the results of policies you endorse.

    • Tim the Coder
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Then don’t sell.
      Every such sale needs both a buyer and a seller.

    • Hope
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      JR, best coherent blog you have written in a long time. Why was China allowed to buy British steel this year? Haewei, Hinkley? Critical infrastructure should not be allowed to be bought when needed for ship building etc as critical skills to build and manufacture will be lost. But successive Lab/Fake Tories want global world and governance even if it means to our nations detriment i.e. Hinkley, British steel and those companies you mention.

      Procurement by our MOD needs a very quick drastic overhaul before all contracts are given away to other nations when jobs will be needed here. The nation has a shortage of engineers in a range of disciplines. Schools, technical colleges and universities will also need to be overhauled to direct people towards the skills and jobs we need.

      • Hope
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Linked to this and your blog on cars I note the ECJ has made a ruling that people can sue from the country they bought a VW, the case in question was from Austria from recollection.

        The govt. should have taken action against VW for the emission scandal- this should also relates to other German car manufacturers who admitted similar cheating/failings. Why has the U.K. not acted like the US and taken action against VW rather than punish U.K. Consumers through higher taxation? It is also relevant to environment standards nonsense spouted by Barnier in current negotiations.

        • Ian @Barkham
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          The amazing bit of this emission scandal is that the defeat mechanism used was to allow the vehicles to qualify for a lower tax bracket. i.e. so UK tax authorities could not collect the correct amount owing.

          If you or I set out to defraud the UK tax authorities in such a blatant way we could be in prison now.

          I wonder why HMRC let them get a way with it?

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

            Good points.

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      If these companies were private companies then what’s to stop them selling if they want? If the owner want to be rich then that’s their prerogative, no? Surely in a democracy the govt. can’t prohibit these sales, can they?

      I don’t understand that buying other EU companies were blocked, how?

      • Dennis
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Many countries can buy property here but we are prohibited from buying their property – why do we allow?

        I think it all boils down to a greed for money via these transactions. Sell a forest etc. – all get their cut.

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Adam, That is correct. But the reason it is true is missed by so many. In a complex global world the UK cannot be entirely self sufficient – the USA could, probably Russia, China, Brazil, India, too.

      But we should not be so stupid as to think that Jonny Foreigner either will, or should, look after us. Therefore we must become more self sufficient. It does not mean 100% but it does mean more than 50% for strategically important products.

  2. David_Kent
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I agree with your sentiment, there is also a further dimension to it. So long as we have a balance of payments deficit we are obliged to balance the books by selling assets and/or borrowing abroad. So the declining exports resulting from the process you describe gives a further incentive to sell off more industries so decreasing exports further.
    An even more pernicious problem is that all our promising young Tech and biotech companies are sold off to the States, or elsewhere, so they never grow to be the next Shopify, let alone the next Google.

    • Nigl
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Your second paragraph just highlights our attitude to risk. The US is genuinely an enterprise economy with the even the working person more likely to ‘have a punt’ than ever we have or will.

      I think it is something to do with lack of Welfare State safety blanket.

      • Al
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        It is also lack of available finance in the UK. I was surprised to find how extensive the difference is when in talks about a joint venture.

        Small businesses here have great trouble finding grants, loans or startup capital and or expected to put personal assets up as security. The US has a far greater access to unsecured loans and capital, meaning that business owners starting in the US can fund their firm without risking loss of all personal assets.

        Just look at what happened with the government-backed loans during covid – even with government backing, the banks didn’t hand the money out unless assets (usually personal ones) were used to secure the funds.

      • David_Kent
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure that attitude to risk is a fixed quantity. Here there are pretty big disincentives to risk taking; High capital gains tax is the worst, the discount for entrepreneurs is all very well but not really for the small punter. Also high inheritance tax starting at a low level so young people don’t get a stake to start businesses.

      • NickC
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Nig1, I think that’s true. When I stayed in the USA for a couple of months I found their have-a-go attitude quite heartening. It was certainly a refreshing change from the dismal attitude of Remains here who fear change and think we cannot be independent.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Last para due to insufficient home market, which the EU was supposed to change but didn’t. Probably best to pocket the money and invest further upmarket, but that will mean less employment in production here, so less need for imported people. Also not a bad thing on this small island.

      • Peter Wood
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        You touch on the reality; do we produce the ‘software’ for making stuff people buy, or do we also make the stuff people buy.

        I like the position of Apple, create, design, hold the patent. Let others make it. This means we need much better education and universities.

        It always boils down to education.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          correct – and now Apple make moves to manufacture themselves.

        • NickC
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          No, some things need experience. Formal education is necessary, but not sufficient.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Yet another dimension is that the companies that now own British industry are domiciled outside of the UK and don’t pay UK corporation tax. True UK companies then find themselves in an uncompetitive market.
      This all kicked off with Margaret Thatcher didn’t it?

      • Mark
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        No. Sid and his pension fund bought the UK privatisations, and the market rewarded him with companies that improved their productivity, lowered costs, offered better customer service, and dividends and share price growth. The process of sale to foreign interests didn’t start until later under Major, and accelerated alarmingly under Blair, especially after Stephen Buyers relinquished all the golden shares in privatisations.

        • NickC
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          Mark, Spot on.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      People who run businesses on the Continent are accustomed to paying proper occupational pension contributions and decent redundancy if they get rid of staff.

      They can’t believe how cheap UK businesses are on those points.

      It is the total opposite when UK companies look at buying across the Channel.

      But then, employment law – bar H&S – is entirely a matter for member nations, not for the European Union.

      John seems to imply that this is a Bad Thing too – which is interesting.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        Wrong as usual.
        Employment law in the UK is under the 1997 Social Chapter of the Maastrict Treaty.
        EU policy in this area is then made by the Council of Ministers and then passed by the EU parliament.
        This then translates into rules regulations and directives which must then become part of each member state’s national laws.

        • hefner
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          Wrong as so often. Just an example: zero-hour contracts: they are not allowed, very much regulated, or simply have never been thought ‘a good idea’ in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
          What were you saying about the employment law being imposed by the EU over all it’s member states.
          Ever thought of checking before writing a comment?

          • Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            Yep – in those countries they opt for 50% youth unemployment, 27% unemployment instead. Bravo!

          • Edward2
            Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            What an odd reply hef.
            It is very hard to read.
            Do you really refuse to accept the reality of the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty.
            Normally you are so well informed.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

            Seems they have different work around such as no contract at all ‘According to a representative of the Austrian Chamber of Labour, around 80% of people working in the construction sector have no written employment contract at all. Especially unskilled and low-skilled construction workers have only oral contracts. Oral contracts are also common in the hotels and restaurants sector and the cleaning industry. However, these employees should be handed over a “Dienstzettel”.
            According to a representative of the Austrian Chamber of Labour, around 80% of people working in the construction sector have no written employment contract at all. Especially unskilled and low-skilled construction workers have only oral contracts. Oral contracts are also common in the hotels and restaurants sector and the cleaning industry. However, these employees should be handed over a “Dienstzettel”.

          • hefner
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

            Lynn, you are comical. 50% youth unemployment, 27% in these eleven countries? I agree that some countries in the EU have higher unemployment than in the UK, but nothing as what you say in any of these eleven countries.
            But you do not seem to check anything before writing, so … no surprise here.

          • hefner
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

            Edward2, I perfectly accept the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty. I do not accept your conclusions that all EU countries draw the same consequences as the UK did. Read what a-tracy wrote about Austria.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            I agree, many EU countries just ignored the rules.
            The original statement by Martin that the EU has no involvement in UK employment law is still ridiculously wrong.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            Prove me wrong.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

            No response I notice.

        • Newmania
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          It has precisely zero to say about Company pension contributions.
          Explain to your humble and obviously rather slow disciples ,what the ” Single Market,” has to do with “nasty foreigners taking our stuff” tale
          (While you are at it how wickedly pouring someone elses taxes into UK employers is bad thing anyway )

          Back to rip off Britain we go , its probably the teachers fault .

          • Edward2
            Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Martin raised several issues.
            I decided to deal with the one about employment legislation.
            Your post Newmania is a garbled nonsense.

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Newmania, the U.K. has national insurance contributions for employees 25.8% over the Lel £9500 now, plus 8% Nest. The EU equalisation policy created the raising of the female retirement age announced in the Blair/Brown years and pension white paper. The EU directives helped to create NEST whatever British government we elected we’d have got the equalisation of pensions and Nest.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

          What a garbled set of posts.
          I see the usual suspects are immediately triggered.
          Rushing off onto red herrings.
          Hilarious to see.
          What I said was correct.

          • Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

            Absolutely factual. Spot on. You can’t get anywhere unless you accept the facts as a starting point.

          • hefner
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

            Anyone who would really do the painful homework of seeing how the Social Chapter is being applied in various countries would realise it is far, very far, from a homogenous application of the ‘rules’. There are good reasons for that, countries have different histories of company financing, of trade unionism, of relationships employers-employees, employer-led training, level of unemployment benefits, level of pensions, …

            Edward2 is right on the principle (the ‘fact’) but wrong on the resulting effect of the application of the SC in different countries.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

            You are going off at a tangent.
            My original post wasn’t about the application of the Social Chapter across the whole 28 member nations.
            I was simply challenging Martiin’s claim that the EU had no involvement in UK employment law.
            Which is completely wrong.

          • hefner
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Related to your very first post in the series (10/17, 12:17), I wonder who is going off the tangent. You wrote: ‘This translates into rules, regulations and directives, which must then become part of each member state’s national laws’.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            Yes because the point I was making was that the UK follows these rules but other EU nations do not.
            Are you being deliberately obtuse?
            Martin said the EU has no legal impact on employment law.
            Even you knows that is wrong.

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        Martin, how much do Spain, Italy, France pay as a % of gross pay into the employees pension compulsorily?

        • hefner
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

          For France, the total cost of an employee with the minimum salary (SMIC) can be found at lemagdelentreprise.com ‘Combien coute un salarie au smic al’entreprise’

          • a-tracy
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            Thanks Hefner, but Martin knows the % comparisons to the UK employers National Insurance + Nest contribution so I’ll wait for him to tell me.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      But the decisions to sell off our companies, David, to ‘balance the books’, isn’t made by those with any responsibility or concern for the balance of payments. Your argument is conventional, and made by others, frequently, but I’m not sure it explains what’s happening.

    • IanT
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Sadly very true David – but size counts and until our fledgling tech companies are protected from the global tech giants – and also discouraged from selling out – then nothing will change. With research grants must come other conditions that protect any UK investment.

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      How are UK books balanced if the industries sold off are private? Just by getting some transaction fees? How does it work?

  3. DOMINIC
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    These businesses are private companies. They aren’t British companies in the cultural or political sense. They owe no allegiance or loyalty to the UK. Their loyalty is to their shareholders. That is the purpose of a private company. That it is apolitical and culturally neutral.

    Profit is the only determinant. Concerns about politics, culture, patriotism, loyalty to the community. These are irrelevant and concern only politicians who fear political consequences about actions taken by private companies

    I recognised that when Thatcher was felled in 1990, the UK had changed direction for good. It’s been downhill ever since. The UK today is a wasteland

    • Fred H
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t say a wasteland – more like lost,wandering around an oasis in a desert, but with a blindfold on.

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Thanks DOMINIC, you have said what I have thought to be the case above. So if that is right why did JR not mention it?

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Dominic, That is because it’s not possible to have free enterprise across national boundaries, because of national differences. It’s no coincidence that it is easier for UK firms to do business in the Anglosphere than in the EU.

  4. Javelin
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Google European Round Table Lobbying

    • Javelin
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      The point being lobbying should be more transparent, like it is inside banks and corporates where any meeting with outside interests is logged and available to the legal department. I would suggest democracy would be improved if minutes of all lobbying is published on a Government website within 30 days.

  5. Nigl
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Vodafone acquired Mannesmann in Germany back in the day and it is now their biggest market, indeed we should weep at how behind your government has allowed our digital infrastructure to become compared with theirs.

    If that is your ‘little englander’ policy, count me out. They are also integrating Ziggo in Holland and have majority ownership,or partnership agreements in ex iron curtain countries.

    So it can be done and successfully. No doubt difficult markets but maybe instead of justifying our lack of success as the EUs fault you should also look at our management and ambition.

    Incidentally they are a massive dividend payer so your attack on some of their equipment means millions of pension funds and individuals relying on them for income will suffer not forgetting the 5G economy that we are world leaders in.

    But then rich as Croesus politicians financially never have to suffer the effect of their actions like the rest of us.

  6. Mark B
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    It goes beyond private companies being bought and sold to foreign investors. Look at what happened to Royal Mail ? Or foreigners to buy up large parts of London and the South East on over-inflated house prices ? And look at what happens when we allow the EU countries to bid for UK Local Government contracts.

    If our kind host allows :

    https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/selling-in-eu/public-contracts/public-tendering-rules/index_en.htm

    I have no problem with foreign investment but, like our kind host, I too have an issue with foreign government owned companies taking ownership. They will act in time of world recession to either close down the local business or, fleece the consumer (water companies I am thinking of you !) so as to placate the home population. Bu nothing has been done in the last 10 years and I do not expect a sudden change anytime soon.

  7. Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Excellent example of how the EU worked against us.

    We were seen as an asset to be stripped of everything worthwhile.

    Yes we must protect our companies and keep them British – The EU experiment has shown how self centered EU countries are because EU rules work in theur favour

    • bill brown
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Bryan Harris

      Talking about 27 countries being Eu centred when most of them trad with teh whole world I find a very narrow and not accurate perspective

      • Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        @bill brown

        You’re off target – we were talking about how despite being a union where all are supposed to be equal, and all things were supposed to be mutual, they were not.

        While the UK stuck to open policies, the rest of the EU played the rule-book to take advantages, making for a less than even playing field, and unfair practices.

        • bill brown
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          Lokking at Denmark, Sweden, Finalnd , Slovenia, Portugal and Slovakia,I do not see that to be the case so I think you are generalising without the factual information available

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            I suppose 6 out of 28 is pretty good for the EU.
            Shame major nations in the EU did not play fair as Sir John outlines in his article.

  8. Sakara Gold
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    “Market forces”, old boy. “There is no alternative”.

    “Why should they have an appendectomy if they can’t afford it”

    Some of us still remember the real reason for the destruction of British industry

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Sakara, If we went back to the amount of industry we had in 1997, I would be most happy.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Yes, people with good jobs in industry tend to vote Labour to protect them.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Do you have data on this claim ?

        Did that happen in the last election?
        In a JLR heartland they voted in a Conservative MP for example.

        • bill brown
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          Edward2

          I mentioned just few but as usual you just make a nonsense comment with no facts

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

            When did you mention a few bill?
            There was a fact in my post.
            Read it again.

      • NickC
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        That’s not my experience, Martin.

  9. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Sir John, your summation is 100% correct.

    Most of the purchasing companies you mention are also owned or have majority shareholders that are governments of the Countries they call home. As such these conglomerates have themselves immunity and a protected status against being acquired.

    Another take on it; Pilkington Glass never made money from selling the product so their tax earnings and contribution to the UK on that basis was minimal. However, they did earn a considerable amount from their IP, patents and licensing. As you said a World leader. The first thing Nippon did after acquiring the company was to move the earning side of the company to Japan. The Japanese taxpayer now enjoys the direct contribution to their exchequer coming direct from the UK. The score UK taxpayer now nil, the use of the NHS, the transport infrastructure, education, and the wealth and wellbeing of the UK is no longer funded but used on a freeloading basis. This example is replicated across the whole spectrum of UK industry

    This was the same scenario with SoftBank’s purchase of ARM – move the earning and contributing side of the operation out of the UK. The list of similar events goes on and as you say it is not a level playing field and the trade isn’t equable.

    You have to ask if these purchasing companies are so good why don’t they just set up in competition, give the consumer more choice and keep pricing competitive. Logic is the management is lazy and believing in removing competition is the best way to keep their own costs under control and protect themselves.

    A lot of the companies you mention have been involved until found out in protecting themselves by forming cartels. Their modern take on acquisitions is if you think about is just another form of this type of protection.

    Not only does the UK loose, we get to fund their use of facilities as they avoid contributing themselves. The consumer then looses in the higher prices charged and the extra taxes they also have to pay to fund the wealth, health and security of the country because of the void these enterprises leave.

    Every nation being able to enjoy in the wealth created in the UK is one thing, but as a large foreign consumer of it and never contributing to it is another.

  10. agricola
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The British people may well agree with you and wish to retain their physical and intellectual property for the long term good of the nation. However an excess of lawyers in government and parliament have been historically only too happy to sell off the nations silver to compensate for their financial disasters past and present. Companies at the cutting edge of technology should be ring fenced from overseas acquisition, and supported by government. Should we succeed at producing a vaccine against Covid-19 judge government on their willingness to let it be freely available to the rest of the World. Remember governments record on:-
    Radar. Given to the USA with little effect at Pearl Harbour.
    Computers. given to the USA who created what you see today.
    The Jet Engine. handed to the USA and Russia.
    The Miles Rocket Aircraft which became the USA X- Craft project
    TSR 2 cancelled in favour of a USA aircraft that came to nothing.
    Hover craft. Apart from an IOW ferry, given to the USA.
    The World Wide Web, exploited by the USA.
    DNA, exploited by all and sundry.
    Atomic Energy. We cannot even produce our own.

    Government and our civil service do not have a commercial brain cell between them. All they can do is put us in hock to China and France for future nuclear energy, jeopardise our future security by inviting Huawei, a Chinese security risk, into our communications structure. Building white elephants like the Dome and HS2 , neither of any commercial value. Were they of value then private enterprise would have funded them long ago.

    Without doubt the greatest threat to GB Ltd outside the EU is the British government itself.

    • glen cullrn
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      don’t forget ‘graphene’ the wonder material that we have given to the world only for it to be exploited and patent by china

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 3:06 am | Permalink

      +1

      The devil is not in the detail, it is blindingly obvious…..simply put, it is incompetant Politicians who have scant regard or knowledge for running any disciplined enterprise.

      Having had 30+ years of working with the UK Government, I do not believe change will happen. Fish rots from the head down, but few recognize the head is rotten?

      I would never consider bringing a £multi-billion business to Britain in its current state of Kakistocracy!

  11. dixie
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of what you say but those of us working in the private sector, particularly the technology and engineering areas, have known this for decades. I have worked for UK and NA companies with customers and notional partners in many countries including the EU. Many successes have been in spite of a UK finance sector and government who do not defend let alone further our interests. If we cannot depend on them for support what good are they? Why should we keep rescuing and subsiding such parasities?

    Basic competencies and reciprocal access are simply not good enough. The governments and commerce of other countries go far beyond this to nurture and protect their national interests and ours simply must too.

  12. Andy
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    What a very silly post.

    It is, literally, the Conservative party that has allowed all of assets to be sold off to foreigners.

    British companies have not be able to bid for French electricity generators, for example, because in France the state generates electricity – and the French do not wish to sell it off. The single market is irrelevant. France will not sell it off unless it wants to. And it doesn’t.

    The Tories sold off our electricity industry – and it was then bought by rich foreigners. So was our water industry. Our gas industry. Our airports. Our trains. Other countries kept these – aware that they are strategic. And we, or rather all of you, flogged ours off.

    Brexit will not change any of this. Except we will be poorer so you will have even less money to buy stuff.

    • Edward2
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      The EU allows global trade.
      Blame them.
      For 15 key years there was a Labour government.
      You seem to have forgotten that bit.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      None of the companies mentioned by Sir John in his post were privatised and then sold. None.

      Privatisation was indeed pioneered by the thatcher government. And the policy was then imitated all around the world. Including throughout the EU. Especially in the former communist countries.

      It’s good that your splenetic and opinionated rants are published. But readers should remember that most of what you say is simply untrue.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      Andy

      Brexit will put right the ineptitude of current and past Governments, but it will take time! They can no longer hide under the shadow of Brussels. Starting with the Civil Service!

    • NickC
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Andy, It is, literally, you who sneers at patriotism and nationalism as xenophobic. So now you still condemn British self-interest, yet praise French nationalism. That’s an epic teen-age fail on your part, even though you’re a middle-aged man.

  13. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Only found out earlier this week that Arcam are now part of the Samsung group.

    Governments should wake up to the fact that to run a proper economy, you need to sell more than cups of coffee to each other.

    Have taxation policies got anything to do with it ?

    We should be encouraging business investment and success, not taxing it out of sight.

  14. Fred H
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Utilities must never be foreign owned. Defence items should be UK designed and produced as far as possible, Production of transport items, buses, coaches, taxis, train sets should be UK owned. Health items should be UK designed and produced as far as possible.
    Independence!

    • glen cullrn
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      +1 agree

  15. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Governments have been happy to sell off heavy industries to reduce carbon emissions.
    Exporting our business to get carbon neutral is a mugs game.
    We should be encouraging manufacturing not selling to the highest bidder.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Why are we refusing planning permission for open cast coal whilst Importing it from Russia.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        You could make it up….just utter madness

      • NickC
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Ian Wragg, It is truly bonkers importing coal when we have so much of our own. But then we need to overturn the green hysteria of people like Andy and Martin.

  16. Peter van LEEUWEN
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I looked at wikipedia: All these mentioned UK companies apart from the Hanson Trust date from imperial times, so in a new post imperial era they may have become less competitive?
    After all, for international market success, it is needed to adapt to other cultures, speak your languages, adapt to different ownership structures, work with other rules and courts (EU rules and ECJ court for most of the continent. That applies equally to all the other, now 27, countries, which appear to have no problem with this). As a more recent great UK succes I could point to Vodafone, which acquired Mannesman.

    If it is about protecting more strategic companies (or even start-ups) from foreign take-over, that indeed needs attention, both in the UK and on the continent.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      It would be a very bad idea for governments to start ‘protecting strategic assets’ from foreign takeover unless there is a very clear security rationale. Amongst liberal democracies, owners of businesses should be free to invest and divest as they wish. In that way capital gets employed most efficiently. If governments start ‘protecting’ private companies eg start-ups from selling to the best bidder, funding for them in the first place will rapidly dry up.

      There has always been a bit of a confusion in UK politics, including in the Conservative Party, on this. On the one hand it is welcomed when ‘our’ companies buy businesses overseas, on the other we don’t like it when they in turn get bought. Although we do like to talk about strong FDI….

      In many European countries – until recently especially the Netherlands – it is true to say there has been a very un-level playing field with regard to takeovers. If we start to see routine government interference in corporate investment the result will be lower investment and lower growth. Sir John has something of a point with regard to foreign nationalised industries though.

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        @Richard1: Dutch companies have indeed been rather easy targets for foreign take-over. Now that China owns about a third of the Rotterdam habour, it is high time to wake up. This is where strategic aspects come into play.

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      PvL, Germany and the EU expended much effort to keep Wirecard going. As for other’s rules and courts – yes, exporters must conform – but nations do not have to. ECJ rulings do not apply within the USA, or New Zealand. Thankfully by 1 Jan 2021 ECJ suzerainty will no longer apply to the UK either.

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        @NickC: In the EU nations are also subject to courts like the ECJ. I remember sitting in the public gallery in 2010, when Italy was taken to the European court because of state aid to a company on Sardinia.

        Obviously ECJ rulings do not apply outside the EU.

        • NickC
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          “Obviously ECJ rulings do not apply outside the EU”. Perhaps you could have a word with your Michel Barnier? And then with Andy, Newmania, Acorn, Margaret H, Martin, etc?

          • Peter van LEEUWEN
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            @NickC:
            Of course Barnier and others would agree. That is not the issue.
            The only issue (red line) is that in order to sell something INSIDE the EU (say as USA), the rules of the EU (i.e. the Single Market) are to be followed, and ECJ rulings are final INSIDE this Single Market.
            Also, if e.g. Microsoft doesn’t agree with a fine given by the competition commissioner (who looks after a level playing field), then Microsoft can take the EU Commission to court, that is to the ECJ. If Microsoft were not to play fair outside the EU/ Single Market, that is not the EU’s or ECJ’s concern.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

            And the USA is capable of retaliatory action if you fine people like Microsoft billions for vague rule breaches.
            Careful what you wish for Peter

          • Peter van LEEUWEN
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2: That already happened in 2013 and other fines to large tech firms followed! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            Yes and since then America has become increasingly irritated with the EU’s mega fines on their major corporations.
            My gentle warning is to be careful that your EU doesn’t poke the hornet’s nest too many times.

  17. Peter
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Everything was up for sale – companies, property, land.

    No concept of nationhood – national security, identity, strategic interests etc.

    Even the crucial importance of nationality, citizenship and the right to hold a British passport was never properly respected by elites.

    It might be too late to turn that around now.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Agreed, it was like a fire sale, everything must go, any thought of a national interest was declared little Englander or racist, and as you point out this extends to citizenship , its almost become pick up a British nationality as you pass through the airport transit lounge.

      I have said before that we desperately need a patriotic industrial policy to rebuild a British owned industrial base , unfortunately the globalists and internationalists who have control of the British state will not permit it.

      • Andy
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        It was literally all sold by the Conservatives. Literally all of it.

        Gas. Telecoms. Electric. Rail. Water. Airports. Fishing rights.

        And when this is sold shareholders sell it on for profit, often to foreigners.

        If you keep voting for people who do stupid stuff that you don’t like do not be surprised when stupid stuff that you don’t like keeps happening.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          Odd because I and many others in the UK have shares in all these companies.
          Good dividends too.

        • Iain Moore
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          Privatisation was done with the Thatcher Government holding a golden share, it was removed by the Major Government and mostly by Blair’s Labour Government as it was deemed to go against the single market rules,

      • NickC
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Iain, and Peter, Well said.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Wrong, any suggestion that the Government should retain any controlling stakes was met with shrieks of “Communism!” from the Right.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Why do you think a government should have business interests?
          They have enough to do without involving themselves in running car companies or companies that provide water or phones.
          Why not food providers?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

            Well then accept that with full property rights, owners are free to sell to whomever they like.

            The only ways to stop that are to retain a degree of public ownership, or to restrict private property rights.

            Which is most offensive to so-called libertarians?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            I do accept that premise.
            You should be able to buy and sell freely.

            The article by Sir John was stating that many nations use unfair methods to stop that fair two way trade happening whilst we in the UK do not.

        • NickC
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Wrong, Martin, any suggestion that the government should prevent the sale of controlling stakes to foreigners was met with shrieks of “Xenophobia!!” from the Left.

      • steve
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Iain Moore

        “unfortunately the globalists and internationalists who have control of the British state will not permit it.”

        It is they who need to be ‘taken out’.

  18. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    The free movement of labour rules are also not a level playing field. The EU population can come here and claim all benefits as a right. This can give them greater income than they could earn in their own countries while temporarily living in houses with multiple other occupants all in order to earn monies to take back to their own country. A massive advantage over those people who live here.

    The fact that those using free movement are able to hugely undercut the salary requirement of those living here due to their transient nature and short term discomfort is a massive advantage. Benefits should not be accessible until living here (say 3 years’ qualification) so that they have less of an advantage.

    Similarly free movement of goods, Eastern European production costs are massively lower than Northern European costs so production and service jobs move to the cheapest area.

    It is not a level field as you write.

  19. Nivek
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    “The single market was never a level playing field”

    Before one gets too used to writing in the past tense, this is just a reminder that there are 175 days till the Conservatives’ gift to the EU of legislative power over the UK expires (Arts. 126 and 127 of the Withdrawal Agreement).

  20. Andy
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Yesterday Mr Barnier and the EU published a 35 page document outlining what happens on 1 January 2021 – whether or not the UK and EU do a Brexit trade deal.

    It is chilling stuff.

    There in black and white is nearly 50 years of progress which the Brexiteers are undoing in one go. The British government has produced nothing similar.

    The document outlines the significant extra barriers to trade which will exists. The significant extra bureaucracy and costs – which importers and exporters will face. It lays bare the split between GB and NI – agreed by the Tories.

    It outlines the difficulties our transport companies will face. Hauliers, for example, lose their right to free movement – meaning there is no longer an automatic right for them to drive goods from – say Birmingham to Munich. What happens when they get beyond Dover – as they are can no longer automatically to work in the EU? British businesses lose the right to transport goods between two EU destinations.

    The document details significant challenges the aviation sector will face. The significant disruption the chemicals industry will suffer. The numerous privileges City firms will lose.

    And then there are our rights which we as individuals are having taken away – and the multiple increases in personal bureaucracy we face. From rising costs of school trips – as visas will eventually be needed – to the fact that our driving licences are no longer valid in Europe, to the fact that we have to use the slow lanes at airports.

    This 35 page document is the closest thing we have yet seen to what a leave vote in 2016 actually meant. Not what you all think it meant or what Vote Leave promised you that it meant. This is now what is actually means.

    I urge you all to read it. It is appalling. And I doubt it is what any of you actually meant when you put your faith in Boris Johnson. It’s 35 pages which sum up why your grandchildren will undo Brexit at the first opportunity.

    reply They are clearly worried we will just leave. I don’t believe them

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      The fact that they are content to issue such threatening documents betrays the mentality. We could stop EU traffic across our country to Ireland and within the uk, and stop tourists coming here. We could send 3 million people back to the EU, but we don’t feel the need to carry this big bullying stick.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s desperate stuff from barnier and the EU. That they are publishing this threatening drivel at this point in the negotiations is a good sign. What a contrast with the positive and friendly noises from all those other FTA negotiating partners around the world – Australia, Japan, NZ, the US, Switzerland etc. No wonder the EU is the most economically sclerotic region in the world excluding the socialist basket cases!

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      Andy

      Humbug

      You clearly do not run or understand a substantial business…..Politicians will jump when the financial pressure is on.

      For a simple example let’s take the German Automotive industry. It will kick up an almighty fuss should the UK impede their ability to sell autos to the UK. Likewise for the French, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Dutch, etc. Goods and Services imports from the EU were worth £372 billion in 2019 with a very healthy profit. (ONS) Do you believe the Europeans will sit quietly by and allow this annual bonanza to disappear?

      27 country’s livelihoods are, in some shape or form, dependent on UK goodwill. Should Brussels not succeed in gaining a deal with the UK, in the minds of these said countries, what purpose do Brussels serve? “Let that sink in for a moment”

      You have sucked in to much Brussels baseless propaganda. The reality: Brussels will be in utter shock if a deal is not completed!

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        @Dennis Zoff:
        I’m afraid you’re dreaming Dennis. While the German Automotive industry has been silent for about 4 years now, knowing that the integrety of the Single Market far outweighs some car-exports to the UK (thus: NO cherry picking for the UK), the UK automotive industry hasn’t kept silent at all. The whole world knows that the UK’s self-damage will be greater. “I don’t believe you” may be a nice battle cry but it doesn’t change these facts.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          But because there is a trade deficit with the EU of around 90 billion euros a year any reciprocal tariffs will yield far more to the UK than the EU 27.
          I hope a zero tariff on vehicles can be agreed.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 12:15 am | Permalink

          Peter van LEEUWEN

          Perhaps your European captains of industry are better informed than mine? Not long now to find out who is the better informed.

          Brussels are sweating, and they should.

    • Garland
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      What don’t you believe, Mr Redwood? You don’t believe that the EU will treat the UK as a third country on 1.1.21? You don’t believe it will apply border checks and levy tariffs on UK goods? You don’t believe Brexit will change anything?

      Reply I do not believe they will try to stop their companies exporting to us!

      • NickC
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Garland, The EU won’t apply any more or different “border checks” to what it already applies to goods and services from the USA or India. That’s because the EU itself must conform to WTO rules.

        • Trammo
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          Wrong. The USA and India have some good agreements with the EU on trade facilitation. The UK has none.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Well, John says that he does not believe the European Union’s statement.

      All that I can say is that they have been as good as their words, to the very letter, so far.

      Reply They are playing brinkmanship trying to terrify us into submission

      • NickC
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Martin, Trade works both ways. If the EU is so foolish as to engage in a trade war – contrary to its own treaty obligations to the WTO – it will get what it wants. But I think the EU is more sensible than you do, obviously.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Well, they European Union’s negotiators seem to me simply to be stating fact, as to what no longer being a member of the European Union or any of its arrangements means.

        So John implies that the “cake-and-eat-it” position is still his government’s, I think, despite the patient, repeated explanations that this is not possible in any universe even vaguely resembling this one.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          Yet with a 90 billion annual trade deficit the UK will collect far more in tariffs than the EU nations do.

  21. Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    When the fate of the UK building materials industry is viewed alongside what happened to much of our privatised power industry, it is understandable if we begin to conclude that the UK was virtually asset stripped in consequence of its single market membership.

    • Andy
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      The UK was asset stripped – but it had nothing to do with the single market.

      It have everything to do with Conservative governments who sold our assets off.

      There is no requirement in the single market to privatise nationalised industries.

      None. Most European countries did not sell these things off. We did.

      You really need to blame Conservative governments and Conservative voters. Which is most of you. Awkward.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Forgetting 15 years of Labour government from 1997.
        Oh yeah what happened there.

      • Mark
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        It was the Labour government that sold off the assets. Why do we have to tell you every time?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          Labour sold BT, Gas, Water, Electricity, Sewerage, BA, BRS, Royal Mail, BR, all those school playing fields, and the rest, did they?

          News to me.

          • NickC
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

            Martin, Retaining a “golden share” or simply preventing takeovers by foreigners was condemned by people like you as nationalism and xenophobic. You still do.

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      David Cooper, Just so. And the EU made full use of europhile fellow travellers in the UK to aid their undermining and milking us of wealth.

      • bill brown
        Posted July 12, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Nick c

        milking us of wealth , is taht why the UK has grown more than most larger EU countries over the past 30 years?

  22. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Sir John you are nearly posing a philosophical question, Free Trade, Free enterprise or equitable trade.

    Large Corporations see free trade as the goal; get in supply the goods or services remove the earnings to somewhere – less taxing. i.e. they want the benefit of the wealth created but don’t want the burden of ever contributing to it.

    The high profile examples in the UK are the large tech concerns, Amazon, Google, FaceBook etc. but they are not alone. They earn a huge amount from the UK they consume the facilities that UK wealth, health and security that has created – the NHs, infrastructure, education and so on. Yet they get to avoid contributing to it. This is all going on while they get to undermine the indigenous enterprises causing them to fail because the business arrangements are not equitable.

    Legally these companies are doing nothing wrong we just have a tax system designed for another era that isn’t fit for the times we live in now.

    When we talk trade and enterprise, free as in zero cost should not be thought of, think it through that is a form of theft. The goal is equitable trade as it should be equitable taxation. Our exporters should expect to contribute to wealth of the nations they want to extract profit from. Likewise those trading in the UK should be on an equal footing to our own companies when it comes to tax and contributions. The inhibitor is, and it seems to be based on vanity and sound-bites our tax system is deeply flawed. We would sooner tinker around with grants and loans and so on rather than making it fit for purpose. So in the end those that get trapped into paying tax, pay extra to compensate for those that don’t. Its a bit bizarre that we have a system that means relatively speaking the smaller the company the more they get to pay.

  23. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Well if you remember Hanson, he found it so much easier to buy businesses in the open market of the United States than in continental Europe, even when we were supposed to be an integral part of this new European venture. Cultural and regulatory issues were a major part of this. We offered ourselves up as good open-market Europeans, whereas French and German companies were made unattractive with their different regulatory culture. Who would buy a business where you can’t realign the workforce in line with markets?

    Conversely our openness made us attractive to pick off. If it was easier to sell against our domestic companies who laboured under high energy costs and a strong £, then we were crushed by imports. If it was judged better to buy our companies and keep some production here, that happened.
    We need again to look at the Swiss for a model- keep basic industries tightly regulated at home like Lafarge Holcim, go upmarket. Regulate to help local companies, not to leave them naked to overseas predators. Encourage your hi tech companies to grow out of universities and hospitals with a strong local market to enable them to expand abroad too. Don’t let the NHS buy worldwide to save a penny when there are good domestic products which save lives by being down the road.

  24. Walt
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Agreed, Sir John. So why did our governments allow it, when there were contemporaneous objections? Why were our water and energy companies sold into foreign hands, notably French and German? How can we legitimately regain ownership and prevent such further one-way traffic? Should we copy the tactics of our French friends and claim national strategic interest, as in the attempted take-over of Danone (makers of strategically important yoghurt!).

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Walt – don’t expect a reply from JR – any interesting questions the answers to which would be informative are not in his remit, unfortunately.

  25. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Did the foreign companies you list run the companies badly and/or reduce their UK workforce ? I don’t see much problem per se with foreign ownership in non-strategic sectors.

    On reciprocal access, many UK companies have turned out to be not that good at running companies they acquire in Europe – the supermarkets for example – maybe best that others didn’t try.

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Roy Grainger, In my experience EU companies have tended to asset strip IP, and close down some or all production here.

      • bill brown
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        NickC

        Peugeot, Nissan BMW, Arla Danish Crown. Vestas, Danfoss, Maersk, DFDS , and the list goes on, so Nick C it si not the case

        • Edward2
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          BTW
          Peugeot closed Ryton in West Midlands.

  26. Anthony
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    John, is there somewhere we can learn more about how rules in other countries blocked access for bids to UK firms?

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      More to the point why didn’t Conservative governments align the same rules to protect U.K. key industries, water, energy, aggregates, vehicles, airlines!

      Give us an opportunity to buy back majority shareholding’s in key U.K. essential suppliers.

      • glen cullrn
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        good question, some of these natural resources belong to and are the heritage of the people NOT government

    • mancunius
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      They had a ‘national security’ exemption for takeovers written into EU law (fair and sensible enough on the face of it) but then ensured the law was drafted and interpreted in such a way that a company making the glass for a traffic light, or the plastic for schoolroom chairs or tyres for police vehicles might be deemed to be a ‘national security’ risk and refused a takeover. All this while covertly arranging protectionist state subsidies for industry (e.g. discounted energy prices for manufacturers, crypto-nationalised local industries) and lobbying Brussels for handouts to subsidise the subsidy.

  27. Lifelogic
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Much truth in what you say.

    The single market was indeed never a level playing field. Indeed not but then in the UK neither is healthcare, housing, energy, broadcasting, education, energy …… they are all rigged markets with a lack of freedom of choice.

    The most important thing is to make the UK competitive with cheap energy, low taxes, easy hire and fire and a bonfire or red tape. Plus sort out fair competition in the above and halved the size of the largely parasitic sector.

    • Jim Whitehead
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      LL, again you blast out a clarion call that deserves to be taken note of.
      The sound-proof room of cabinet decision making filters out any such value penetrating from outside.
      I await the smouldering edge of red-tape with a hope, probably forlorn, that a blaze will ensue, with a phoenix-like emergence of spirit, enterprise, prosperity and employment.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        +1 transport is yet another rigged market.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          And much of banking hence the absurd one size fits all 40 OD rates.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

            40% – all magically charging about the same rate too and regardless of the credit risk taken. Total economic lunacy and a total lack of and banking insanity – driven by the FCA while under the current BoE Governor (History Queens’ Camb.)

            Perhaps the 1922 will ask him about this economic illiteracy and total insanity?

          • hefner
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            Lifelogic, you know what? I am fed up with you whining over the 40% overdraft rate. Most people, I assume, would avoid being overdraft. If in your financial dealings you are unable not being in that situation, might it be that the problem is with you? What a crybaby.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

            Well I do not use these rip off overdraft rates. So effectively they have withdrawn my overdraft facilities. But this is not good for the bank’s profits nor for me as if it we priced at sensible rates I would use it on and off to do some more deals. I lose and the bank loses too.

            Idiotic economic lunacy.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            Businesses need finance especially when expanding.
            40% overdraft rates when base rates are near zero is ridiculous.

  28. Pat
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    May I raise a current example:

    What do you think to the BBC situation?

    The BBC had internet distribution technology through I-player before any of its rivals and should now be the worlds leading international media company, providing worldwide subscription services and a massive boost to the UK tax base and balance of payments. It cannot move forward while constrained by it’s funding structure via the licence fee.

    This is not a problem of BBC management; it is entirely due to a government purblind to the massive opportunity being stifled by it’s own distortion of the UK media market.

  29. Tim the Coder
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    “I particularly oppose the idea that nationalised industries or foreign states should be able to buy up U.K. based businesses.”

    So John, you are opposed to the concept of private property?
    If I own a share in XYZ plc, that is my property, and I’ll sell it to anyone I please. No totalitarian politician is going to get in the way.

    If that company is so vital to UK Government, let UK Government offer enough to buy the share, or start a competiotor, not try to steal my property.

    Regarding building materials, you might also care to investigate the torrent of anti-business legislation produced by the Government that is very effective in exporting jobs.
    Environment stuff.
    Green levies on power, making it too expensive.
    Clogged roads.
    Employment taxes.
    Factory taxes.
    Transport taxes.
    Sales taxes.
    Planning permission taxes and bribes (oops, pardon, planning gain grants).
    Newt relocation costs.

    Well you get the idea.
    Government is not the solution, it’s the problem. Just stop.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      The mind boggles just thinking about the different and ingenious ways this government has in taxing us

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        Taxing and inconveniencing at every turn.

        • glen cullrn
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Reminds me of the Sheriff of Nottingham

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      and thousands more!

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Tim, Much of what you say is true, particularly the spectacular own goals by government (though that was also Labour, and Coalition, governments too). As for shares it’s perfectly possible to sell your shares to other people, whilst preventing a complete takeover by a foreign business.

  30. ukretired123
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    So it seems the new Building initiatives will benefit French and German companies more than our own.Those of us who have witnessed these foreign takeovers have been ignored esp when France etc do not reciprocate denying the same to our companies. It has been a one-way power grab esp when backed by state owned assets, effectively French nationalisation of UK Plc companies. Weird and devious to say the least.
    When one considers that France get a gigantic 40% of the CAP money alone no wonder they can afford to buy into other countries like Britain. Hence the insistence of refusing Brexit without a fight. Appalling really.

  31. acorn
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    JR, again you are blaming the EU for a home grown problem. Most advanced countries have laws to prevent foreign ownership of strategic national assets. UK governments, particularly Privatising Conservative ones, don’t care who owns what in the UK, as long as Spiv City gets to buy and sell bits of them thousands of times a day for ever more.

    Of all non-financial UK firms, two thirds of all firms; with turnovers greater than £250 million, 45% are owned by foreign entities. About a 100,000 properties owned by foreign firms in England and Wales, with half in London, all worth £30 billion. All owned by companies registered in British and other offshore tax havens.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Agreed – Kraft is American yet bought Cadburys despite objections from many.

      We are prepared to sell to foreign owners, other countries are not

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Acorn, I do not think JR was blaming the EU entirely. He was, I think, reflecting – rather bitterly, but accurately – that the “level playing field” is a myth, and fake with it. Of course that is not necessarily all the result of EU rules, because ethos and culture play a part. In short, we were told nationalism was wicked, whilst everyone else was playing by nationalist rules. I have been warning about this for years.

  32. Sea Warrior
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I miss those days when Buccaneering Hanson Trust was in full flow.

  33. Pat
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I might add

    There has never been a more opportune moment for the government to nudge the BBC away from its crippling dependence on the licence fee.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      nudge? – I’d slam the door as noisily as possible.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know why you’re so anti-BBC.

      It featured Farage more than any other politician during the referendum run-up, and arguably handed you your agonisingly-craved brexit.

      Well, we’ve been left a few months now. Rubbish, isn’t it?

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Compare Farage appearances to Owen Jones etc al.

      • Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        It’s because Farage is actually the weakest Brexiteer that he was promoted by the BBC, turns out the argument is so Strong our weakest slammed the best on the Remain side.
        You should have heard Norris McWhirter, Enoch Powell, Peter Shore, Barbara Castle, etc etc on Brexit!
        You should hear JR!

        • bill brown
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          Lynn Atkinson

          So 50 you th unemp;oyment in placces like Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
          Why, don’t you check statistics before you write such nonsense, you lose all credibility

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        Wrong.
        When did you last see a self-financing private-sector worker in the Question Time audience? A plumber, builder, shopkeeper, web designer, taxi driver or factory worker? It seems the entire panel are teachers, nurses, doctors & public sector workers on secure wages
        But why in the 21st century are people forced to finance this biased organisation as opposed to others like, Virgin, Sky, BT, Amazon Prime or Netflix?

      • Fred H
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        The BBC try to present everything anti-Government, present in a bad light, encourage Left agenda, support and magnify disruptive activities.

  34. hefner
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    What a series of ‘interesting’ statements. In all these acquisitions of British companies by foreign ones, there were some originally British management who either readily accepted or realised there was no support by the Government of the time. Why that? Because over the years we had had the ‘free market’ ideology prevalent during both Labour and Conservative Governments with the underlying idea that there was no harm done if the jobs were staying in the UK. Moreover when these companies were quoted, the British investors and previous management were happy to see their shares usually inflated at the time of the hostile takeover. So if now in 2020 Sir John is crying crocodile tears about the state of British manufacturing, maybe he should go back to the 80s-90s and revisit his thinking in those years.

    • NickC
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Hefner, Because people with your political outlook were willing to allow the EU takeover of our very democracy and national government. And then condemn anyone who tried to protect British interests and industry as xenophobic. You are condemning the results of policies of which you approved.

      • hefner
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Please tell me, what is my political outlook? And you might like your image in the mirror pronouncing things like ‘takeover of our very democracy and national government’ but these words sound rather empty to me. Around 1972-73 only a very few British people were opposed to the EEC. In 1975 the result of the European referendum endorsed the link with continental Europe. From 1979, the successive Conservative Governments went on with it. Despite the many difficulties between the EU and the UK during the Conservative, then Labour, then coalition years, till May 2015, there were extremely few people discussing the ‘EU takeover of the UK democracy’.
        Would you ever accept you yourself might have been taken over by some … say, English Nationalist cabal whose objectives oscillate, depending who within it is talking, between a Empire.2.0 (Five Eyes, Dominions, the Anglosphere) possibly dominated by the elite that pretends not be one (ETPNTBO), a more benign Global Britain mainly based on trade, or a really improved country with benefits going to all in the present population?
        And at this stage and likely for months/years to come it is not clear at all which all of these three perspectives will prevail.

        • bill brown
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Hefner

          Thank you very good reply and substantieed as well

  35. Peter Parsons
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    “I do have a problem with the U.K. offering this freedom to countries and companies who do not accept the same discipline.”

    Then why didn’t you do something about it? The Conservatives have been in government for the majority of the last 40 years and this matter is one of domestic legislation. The UK is in this situation because successive, mostly Conservative, governments have allowed it to happen.

    When you talk about UK companies being sold to the Japanese (think ARM) and the Americans (think Cobham), this has nothing to do with the EU.

    Reply As I said there is a fair two way market with the USA where we have bought US companies

    • Al
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      If the government is so concerned about Huaweii and the security of chips used in UK technology, I do have to wonder why they allowed a well-established UK chip manufacturer like ARM to be sold overseas.

      Repurchase or acquisition of a golden share might be a very good strategic move for the technology sector.

      • NickC
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        AI, Strictly ARM does not itself manufacture – it designs, and allows the purchaser to manufacture for themselves. But, yes, golden shares are a sensible way of preventing strategically important businesses from being taken over by foreigners.

      • forthurst
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The Japanese visionary who bought ARM with the connivance of the Tory government, having toyed with it, appears to be clearing its decks for a re-listing. It behoves the Tory government to ensure that it is relisted here rather than on the Nasdaq or Nikkei where its future as an English operation based in Cambridge would become uncertain.

        The Tories really are a bunch of clowns when they talk about the ‘national interest’: they really haven’t a clue.

      • dixie
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        ARM chips are not currently used in servers and systems that make up the network infrastructure, as distinct from smartphones and tablets, so don’t necessarily offer a good fit to replace network switches etc.

        Also, ARM does not produce physical chips but instead licences a proprietary specification, an ISA, which is used by chip manufacturers such as NXP, Microchip, Cypress, ST, TMSC etc to produce the chips. One issue ARM were facing was their being rapidly supplanted by the RISC-V open standard ISA which is both cheaper to produce and more scalable.

        If you look at modern desktop and server processors they are actually systems made up of multiple architectures, ARM may be being just one of them so the position in the higher end systems is not as over-reaching as you would think from looking at the smaller smartphone and tablet solutions.

        The ARM ecosystem is certainly valuable and I don’t see why they could not evolve to accomodate more than just the ARM design so it is a shame that control was sold off to Softbank (who also own Boston Dynamics, Alibaba and WeWork so quite an interesting organisation). But ARM reacted very badly to the opening up of processor architectures and were seen to have done so, a “Ratner” moment perhaps, so perhaps their executive team was not capable of developing a new path.

        It would be interesting to see where the ex-ARM money and people went after the sale, I know some people stayed in semiconductors eg Frontier Silicon and Agile Analog but haven’t kept up.

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – Just the USA then – right no problem then, we’ve always been doing the right thing.

      JR, can you name one MP who has spoken publicly and in HoC about what everyone in this blog knows in the last 50 years?

    • forthurst
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply. The US is more than ready to sell off its lemons and Hanson and others have taken the bait. Imagining that there is a level playing field between the UK and the USA when it comes to business acquisition of companies they value is illusionary.

      British governments are the only ones that permit their best businesses to be sold off to foreigners. Is this because the British governments are constructed of Arts graduates whose experiences outside politics are far more likely to be in banksterism than in industry? All the others put their national interest first which means retaining employment and IP where it is mutually beneficial to the people and their government through taxation.

      • dixie
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        You make some good points.

        I have wondered why our politicians and civil servants seem like they can’t outdo each other enough in giving away our valuable skills, resources and enterprises. certainly it is easier to “sell” such valuable commodities than convince other countries they should only get the product of them. But there has to be more to it than the apparent simple pig ignorance.

  36. graham1946
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I have always been amazed that people, for ideological reasons oppose nationalised businesses owned by the UK but are very happy when that nationalised ownership is by a foreign government. We privatised our power etc only to sell it to foreign governments and that seems to be o.k.even when we are ripped of pricewise and will be at the back of the queue should a shortage occur.

    • Andy
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      It was literally the Conservatives who did this.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Yet again forgetting 15 years of Labour government from 1997.

      • Mark
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        You need to provide specific examples if anyone is to believe your claim.

        E.On bought Powergen in July 2002.
        EdF bought SEEBOARD, SWEB and London Electricity and three power stations in 2002, followed by British Energy (the nuclear power stations) in 2009
        RWE bought Innogy in 2002

        All under Labour.

  37. JimS
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    While what you say is true I think UK businesses would sell their grannies if it made a few pounds.

    I wonder where the money from the sale of these UK companies went?

    • Dennis
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Monaco?

    • NickC
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      JimS, I had Pilkingtons shares in my pension pot. I voted against the takeover. I lost. The payment went on other funds.

  38. Original Richard
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Correct.

    We have always suffered from illegal non-tariff barriers and state aid when trading in the EU, which is one of the reasons we have a £100bn/YEAR trading deficit with the EU.

    As an independent nation we need to ensure that rules on trade and investment are symmetrical with other nations/trading groups.

    Not only with the EU but also with China.

    • margaret howard
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Original Richard

      Our trading deficit is the result that we manufacture few things and have to import many essentials. We turned ourselves from a manufacturing nation into one of selling services and finances. Never a good idea for a country of 70m citizens that have to make things to finance our standard of living.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        Would you start a manufacturing company today?
        Imports undercut UK manufacturing in many areas.

      • jerry
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        @MH; Oh but back in mid 1979 the UK was going to become such a world beating high tech country, no more blue collar and unskilled jobs for us, it was white or grey collar all the way now, after all we had the skills to design and market the product, by off shoring the manufacture to some much cheaper developing country what could go wrong – other than perhaps the loss of our IP to reverse engineering (the manufacture has to know your secrets to make the products) and then our companies be under-cut so even the British start buying our competitors products!

      • graham1946
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        We do not have to manufacture things to be profitable. We do manufacture a lot of high tech and it would be good to purchase more UK made goods, but we simply cannot compete with China, and who are in turn going to find the same thing with other cheap developing countries producing cheap things. Financial services provide profit and as we have the largest, most sophisticated system in the world, no other country has been able to beat it, not even the USA or the EU. Any country can build a factory to turn out widgets or cars as proven by China, but as yet no-one can match the City of London.

      • Original Richard
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Margaret,

        It’s because there was no level playing field in manufacturing – illegal non-tariff barriers, illegal state aid, rules to suit France and Germany etc – that we had to turn to services and finances in order to make a living plus trade with the rest of the world with whom we have a trade surplus.

        In addition, our corporate elites used UK taxpayers money to fund the EU giving them financial incentives to move UK factories out of the UK and into other parts of the EU (and even non-EU countries such as Turkey) where labour was cheaper.

        Then finally the EU corporate elites promoted the expansion of the EU to include eastern European countries so cheaper labour could be brought to the UK and obviated the need for investment in machinery and new processes.

  39. Mark
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    To start with it’s a chicken and egg question: were we selling companies and other assets to fund our balance of payments deficit, alongside borrowing in international markets to provide mortgages that inflated our property bubble, releasing cash to be spent on imported goods for executor sellers and via IHT and SDLT and CGT by the government?

    Anyway, once the process is started then profits and dividends go to the foreign holding companies, and not to UK pension funds and other UK investors. It becomes a spiral with ever widening BoP deficits requiring ever bigger sales of assets and borrowing to fund them.

    The deals get worse, like the Chinese loan that finances Hinkley Point. Our remaining businesses are made sicker by expensive green energy, putting them on the chopping block for sale before they are forced to close, with energy intensive operations (brick, cement, potteries etc.) as prime candidates for moving offshore. Zero carbon policy will accelerate these trends.

    Yes, the EU has asset stripped the country on the back of willing accomplices in government since the departure of Mrs Thatcher. But Brexit is not sufficient to halt the trend. We have to create the conditions for the economy to flourish by ending the programme of negative return investment in zero carbon, HS2 etc. Then we can stop selling the family silver, and perhaps earn enough to buy some of it back again, especially should the EU fail to retreat from self injury through zero carbon, and return to being the inventive wealth generating industrialists we used to be.

  40. Sea Warrior
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    May I gain float an idea that NS&I should set up a unit trust, open only to British citizens, for the purpose of acquiring large stakes in British utilities and other strategic companies. The investors would benefit from a dividend yield in excess of what the banks pay in interest. The Chancellor would benefit from more dividends remaining within this country. And NS&I would be instructed to vote against any takeover by a foreign entity. Thoughts?

  41. glen cullen
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    That’s why governments in parts of the middle & far east restrict foreign ownership to 49%

  42. ChrisS
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I have been very angry about this problem for several decades.

    British investors have consistently sold the family silver to overseas buyers with the active connivance of successive British Governments. As a result, we now have no domestic car industry and, it would appear no building materials industry either. That is just the start.

    There was no more British company than Imperial Chemicals Industry. Dulux paint was ICI’s best known brand name but the former ICI paints Division in Slough, where my late father used to sell paint to the car industry, is now German owned.

    ICI itself was broken up and several important components, including the agrichemical business were sold to foreign buyers. AstraZeneca, the former ICI pharmaceutical division is now an Anglo-Swedish company.

    This all needs to stop and the United Kingdom will have to work hard to restore its ownership of strategically-important means of production within industrial and other businesses in the post-Covid world.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Very angry for several decades? Is that some kind of a record?

  43. Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    excellent article
    What a corrupt and moronic British political class.pp
    All started wiht the professional politician

    • jerry
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      @Lynn Atkinson; Cough! If you say so, but you do realise that the problems started in May 1979, with the govts decision to reduce the UK state investment in BP by 5% to 46%…

      • Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        You speak of state ownership. I’m speaking of British (Private) ownership. I’m not in favour of any State owning businesses, including our own. They should own services, like the Defence Force, Police, Courts, Royal Mail.
        They can legislate to give themselves a commercial advantage over the investing businessman, and as I say, Professional Politicians have no stake and more than a Corporate employee has a stake. The state must not be allowed to compete with business.

        • jerry
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          @Lynn Atkinson; The problems highlighted by our host are not actually problem of the EU Single Market, they are problems caused by the raw capitalism you prefer.

          The problem is not “corrupt and moronic British political class”, its far more general, and has got worse since the Big Bang of 1986, hence my comment about 1979 and BP, it’s not an issue of who owns what but how ownership is traded and why. The UK lost control of many British companies, private and privatised, well before the EU’s Single Market of 1993 [1].

          Seeing that you raise the issue of nationalisation vs. private ownership, and the roll politicians play, those denationalised companies could have each had a “Golden Share” created, allowing the company to trade share’s freely to those resident (tax liability) here in the UK, thus stopping foreign take-overs – oh hang on…

          [1] which our host, amongst others in the Thatcher govt, did so much to relaunch from the mid 1980s

  44. multiID
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Here’s a thought- forty years ago we had 100,000 seagoing British seafarers sailing in British owned and British flagged ships, today we have only 15,000 seafarers most of them sailing in foreign owned ship’s with foreign flags of convenience

  45. bill brown
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    There have been a number of large acquisitions on both sides of the channel, Voafone, British Airways , HSBC, Aviva, BT and Barclays in Europe and the other way aorund.

    What is much more important is the close network of collaboration at the smaller and medium sized corporate level which ahs developed over 45 years, which is the core of the core of the single market, acquisitions, partnerships, join ventures and long term collaboration contracts, which has shown the benefits of teh singl market, fo us who have been part of that expansion and collaboration.
    These are not deal that necessary show up in the trade statistics, but have developed as part of one large domestic market.

  46. ian
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Ex PMs and lords along with bankers and accountants companies have making hundreds of millions for themselves for many years selling out British companies along with people who sit on the boards of companies, all coming away with big paydays for themselves, if you talk to any of the 00.5 per cents, they will tell you that it doesn’t matter, maybe that because they and their friends are ones receiving the big payouts.
    Nearly sixty per cent of UK companies are already owned or part-owned by oversea entities, so your bit late to the party john and with money involved in these deals for EX PMs, I see no reason why will stop. Even sitting Tory MPs are working for companies part-time to give companies advice on how to get around
    rules and regulation for a sellout to oversea buyers.

  47. lojolondon
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Good article, John – not to mention parts of the Royal Mail, Rail companies, power companies, the list goes on and on…

  48. hefner
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Branston to Japan, Robertson’s to USA, Weetabix to China, cadbury to USA, Newcastle Brown Ale to Denmark, JLR to India, Camelot to Canada, Boots to private equity KKR, Raleigh to Netherlands, Asda to USA, British Steel to China, London Taxis to China, Hamleys to China, Greene King to Hong Kong, ICI to Netherlands, ARM to Japan, Qinetiq 1/3 to private equity Carlisle, Waterstones to Russia, Times to Australian/American Murdoch, FInancial Times to Nikkei Japan, Evening Standard to Russian oligarch …

    That’s what happens when people want a minimalist role for the State a la Hayek. Meanwhile the USA has restrictions on foreign ownership of ports, oil companies, airlines and TV stations and Germany has legislation to protect key areas of technology.

    • hefner
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Most of that from a Daily Mail columnist: Alex Brummer ‘Britain for Sale: British Companies in Foreign Hands’.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Either you believe in a free world trading market or you want a closed command economy.
        Which is it?

        • Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          You can want a fair free trading world, like Trump.

        • hefner
          Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          There has never been a ‘free market’. Study historical economy if you need to be convinced.
          England/Britain in the 19th century having developed its industries, needing raw materials from the empire and wanting to sell its finished products wanted ‘free trade’; at the time the USA was still developping and had tariffs. It was the same story over the years with the subsequent development of Germany, Japan, South Korea, …
          Even when there is no tariff, there are non-tariff barriers that limit a perfectly free trade. Only ignoramuses still believe in this kind of fairy tale.
          Can you explain why world-exporting multinational companies are keeping prices differentiated according to the receiving countries. Is it not some kind of indirect ‘tariff’, if not on the receiving countries but on their consumers?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            I think you know what is meant when people say free trade hef.
            You are being pedantic to define it as an absolute.
            I like most people mean free in the sense that individuals and businesses can invest their money wherever they choose.
            The UK has invested billions in overseas companies.
            This is seen as a good thing.
            But if foreigners invest in UK businesses you seem to get all upset.

            Yes I know different nations have different rules and some impose tariffs on goods.
            Having, unlike you, spent decades importing and exporting.

          • hefner
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

            Edward2, I am not all upset. Originally I was just pointing out how Sir John’s post was biased, criticising Germany and France but absolving the USA. That’s all.

          • dixie
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            I agree with hefner to a degree.

            For me the issue is not the foreign aspect of investment but the control that goes with it. The control that results in IP, jobs and significant profits being transferred elsewhere.

            In reality free trade isn’t free and certainly isn’t fair. Being required to train the outsourced people taking your job on pain of losing redundancy benefits makes things quite subjective.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 11, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          More binary, infantile absolutism.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            You need to choose a path.
            Either you go down the path towards a closed protectionist economy or you choose a path towards open fair free trade.
            Economic history shows open free trade raises standards of living for millions of people.

        • bill brown
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          Edward 2

          This is not one or the other Mr. Trump your favourite seems to disagrew with you on his regional deals

          • Edward2
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            I never mentioned Trump
            What are babbling on about?
            Regional trade deals are what all nations negotiatiate.
            Including your EU.

  49. Everhopeful
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    This is a lesson we appear to be incapable of learning in this country.
    The Quango Public Health England’s pandemic plan assumed that we would import millions of units of PPE from France.
    Apparently no one in PHE realised that France would requisition all these supplies when the pandemic hit.
    Never wise to rely on the kindness of strangers!

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Amazing. Our hard-won experience now gives us the data we need as to which countries we can rely on in a pandemic and where to site PPE manufacturing capability in the UK. Areas with high levels of structural unemployment, and which also suffered from the greatest increases in unemployment DURING the pandemic, would be good locations.

  50. ian
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    After this crisis, most independent pubs and shops will be gone and when US companies arrive in force, with the internet bargains shipped from the USA to your door, well need I say more.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Having just been out to the marina for lunch, my estimate is that 25% of restaurants will be going out of business.
      Sir John, may I suggest that you go around your constituency high streets and note which hospitality venues haven’t yet opened – and then contact the relevant ministers and emphasise the importance of PROMPT action to save them. EOTHO might be advanced by a week. But the easiest fix is for Johnson and Sharma to meet with industry reps EARLY next week, get a feel for the state of the industry, and to then stage a press conference at which the PM can implore the public to get back into the restaurants and save them. The Chancellor has had three months to get EOTHO ready for action.

  51. glen cullen
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Politicians made it symbolic and said it was the mark of our success and the people where forced fed the belief of breixt and our independence and our fisheries…..and its all reflected upon our fishing territory remaining British

    Now the MSM are reporting that our negotiations are going to sell us short….might look good on paper but wait till next general election

    Fool me once blar blar blar, fool me twice blar blar blar, but fool me a third time

  52. ian
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    As for the gov emergency laws which came into force in March 2020, allows gov ministers and civil servants to hand out public contracts without biding tenders or oversight of costs and prices to any companies or people they see fit, you have ready seen it in action with PPE and track and trace but this new law is for all public contracts and HMRC is already inundated with 4000 fraud cases with furlough and business loan. One might ask one’s self how long will this new law go on for, well once ministers and get a taste for it, usually forever, that’s why I know that public finances will be destroyed over next few years and leave voters to pick up the bills for gov largeness and waste and at the same time you will not be able to stop them because it’s being done under the law of the land and no comeback for them till the next election, in other words, after the fact.

    Don’t forget the NHS is not liable for anything going wrong any more under this new law.

  53. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    This is the hobby horse I’ve been riding for years. The policy of selling everything that moves, and even that which is nailed down has impoverished and demoralised us. Where is sovereignty and national pride when everything around us belongs to foreigners. Many don’t buy out of benevolence, they do it to profit from us.

    And let’s face it the belief that if we keep the policy and just ask others to be fair is grossly naive. We must prevent our rivals from buying anything else until they grant concessions.

  54. Dennis
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Thoughts? Not from JR.

  55. Dennis
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Well JR, after reading this lot will you sleep tonight?

  56. hefner
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    O/T: On 03/06/2020 one business news was that Rolls Royce (LDN:RR.) was to shed 700 jobs at its Inchiman plant near Glasgow and 1,500 in the Midlands (dailybusinessgroup.co.uk). This appeared to follow Standard&Poor downgrading the company to ‘junk status’ on 30/05. The value of its share had fallen from >800p in July 2019 to below 300p in July 2020. Another relevant info: nuclear developers had pressed the Government for a prompt decision on new plants (FT, 24/06/2020) apparently favouring big projects. These facts (particularly the loss of its ‘investment grade’ status after 20 years due to ‘prolonged weak profitability’ and expectations of materially lower revenue from its engine service contracts (due to Covid-19) do not augur well for Rolls Royce Small Modular Reactors.
    Moreover from a technical point of view, RR’s decision to keep zirconium alloy cladding inside its steam generators for the first SMRs to be delivered (supposed to become operational before or by 2029) instead of the silicon carbide cladding thought presently by RR not to be a sufficiently mature technology) is another negative (world-nuclear-news.org, 24/01/2020).
    Finally these SMRs with a 400-450 MWh capacity, a design life of 60 years, a ‘quick’ 500-day construction period, are ‘advertised’ at a factory production price of £1.75-1.9 bn per unit but once a set of five units have been installed. They are thought to be able to provide electricity at £60/MWh, much better than the £90/MWh of Hinkley, but still more expensive than the £40/50 MWh that wind turbine companies claim to be able to provide electricity without subsidies (Lazard’s Analysis of Levelized Cost of Energy, v.12.0, 20p).

    • NickC
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Hefner, “Wind” costs do not include the costs of dispatchable back up, which is essential for their reliability on the Grid. Wind “works” in so far as the government stipulates that it is to be preferred, and ignores the back-up costs.

      • anon
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Large Nuclear requires backup as well?
        It also require large cleanup closure costs, which are paid for by implicit guarantees by the state. When the owners walk away.

  57. Original Richard
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    What level playing field?

    Minimum wages in the EU Member States range from €312 to €2 142 per month (January 2020) and some states have no minimum wage at all.

    Germany cheats on state aid and technical specifications (such as the German diesel emissions testing scandal).

    The French make the CAP rules to suit their climate and farmers.

    Etc.

  58. Alison
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. The horse has bolted on far too many jewels.
    One of the problems is the zeal of the M&A companies in the UK suggesting and putting through these deals, for very juicy fees.

  59. hefner
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    O/T-2: Congratulations to Paschal Donohoe, the Irish Finance Minister, elected President of the Eurogroup by a coalition of Northern European countries and smaller EU states. And so much for those who keep saying that Germany and France always impose their views (they were supporting the candidature of Nadia Calvino, the Spanish Third Deputy Minister).

    • NickC
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Hefner, It’s a reward for Eire putting a spoke in Brexit for the EU. Or corruption by another name.

      • bill brown
        Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        NickC

        More unsubstantiated nonsense and no factual back up

        • Edward2
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          No facts in your post either bill.

  60. David Brown
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I will always prefer it to be the EU and not USA. I think its too late now to do any thing, Britain is heading towards a recession and with out a EU trade deal a deep depression, so I question the need to protect what ever is going to be left.
    My hope now is Scotland leaves the UK in 2021 taking its fishing areas with it and rejoins the EU, then there can be a real border with whats going to be left of England.

  61. M Davis
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Bit late in the day. Who’s fault?

  62. mancunius
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    We should never offer what will not be reciprocated, and certainly not to those who are completely uninterested in the ‘single market’ except as a personal or local means of self-enrichment. I see today the BRC complaining that WTO regs ‘would mean that Irish Cheddar cheese might rise 20% in price’. One can’t even begin to deconstruct all the different kinds of nonsense behind that assertion. Maybe nobody at the BRC has ever tasted Irish cheddar and wondered why on earth anybody might want to eat it, and why retailers might be so keen to import it – except as a fillip to their profit margins. Maybe nobody at the BRC has any tastebuds, or knows anything about economics, or indeed can read a map and see where Cheddar actually is. If the gorge was in France, you can guarantee that successive EU budgets and laws would have been filibustered to death until any region and nation outside that locality was strictly banned from calling its cheese by that or any similar name. They would also insist on other EU countries importing wagon-loads of it and restricting similar home-grown products, whether their consumers wanted it or not.
    ‘Do as you would be done by’ certainly. But make sure they really would be genuinely reciprocating rather than squirelling away privileges they will not concede. The EU, alas, is more about ‘Do the other person before they can do you’.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      👍🏻

  63. jerry
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    OT; If the Covid-19 virus is still so prevalent that after 12+ weeks the govt (only) now needs to mandate the wearing of masks when shopping then there are at least five policy areas that become oxymoron’s all the time a face-cover mandate is in force, meaning;

    1/. Those on the NHS Shielded program should remain shielded beyond August, with full support.

    2/. Those advised to self-isolate, and any carers of such people, should carry on doing so.

    3/. Many work places are also very unsafe, so the full furlough & SE support schemes should remain until the face covering mandate can be lifted.

    4/, The 1m+ social distancing guidance becomes even more difficult to maintain and police.

    5/. It is not safe to lift the lock-down any further and indeed some sectors need to be closed again, especially were face coverings can not be worn, such as pubs, eateries, swimming pools and probably gym’s.

    When will the govt stop sending mixed messages? Its safe to unshield and return to the ‘office’ but so unsafe that face masks need to be mandated to protect people from very transient risks of transmissions whilst shopping….

    Also how many knowingly slightly symptomatic people will be temped to ignore self isolation guidance should face coverings become the norm, given that masks do not stop infection, only reduce risk proportional to their design and how the mask is being worn – some being worse than no mask.

    • beresford
      Posted July 10, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been reading the rules for re-opening of my local swimming pool, and many are complete nonsense. You will not be allowed to shower before or after swimming (the showers are operated by IR sensors, not taps) and may be required to don your street clothes over your soaking wet costume when you leave. Swimmers using kick strokes must keep their feet under water to avoid spray (as if this consisted of CV19 rather than chlorinated water). I wonder if the next election will be fought over restoration of fundamental freedoms and civil liberties.

      • jerry
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        @beresford; The issue is one of basic common sense, without that there is no hope for our fundamental freedoms and civil liberties – or indeed managing the effects of Covid-19, after all if chlorinated water (as found at the dilution levels in public swimming baths) was the answer CV19 would have been eliminated back in February.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      We have worked in the office throughout the past sixteen weeks of lockdown the rules were very simple, easy and effective to follow, we marked out the floor with 2m distance tape, we gave staff masks and visors for if people needed to cross into someone else’s space they had to put a mask on and visor should they feel they wanted to otherwise they sat at their workstations without masks as most people were 3m away from each other anyway. We had individual hand gel issued to everyone for when they returned to their desks after handling door handles, we had wipes for all the individual desks and toilets, people were asked to clean down the toilet and sink before and after they used them.

      • jerry
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        @a-tracy: So why were masks, whilst shopping, not mandated back in late March, after all the science has not changed, just the need for virtue signalling from the Govt…

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          Personally my family has worn FP2 masks in supermarkets from March because I didn’t believe the science advice when Ppe was such a big issue for hospital staff and was blamed for the spread to care homes. The science advice did change recently? the WHO, Fauci, Whitty, Sturgeon, they all changed the message.

          Masks also became a political football to play with against Trump and Boris mainly, set them up for a fall, initially we were told we didn’t need them other than for healthcare workers who they were more bothered about getting the limited supplies.

          • jerry
            Posted July 12, 2020 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

            @a’tracy; “Personally my family has worn FP2 masks in supermarkets from March because I didn’t believe the science advice”

            Except even medical grade masks have not stop front-line health care works from catching CV19 from their patients, what chance a filter designed to protect against (relativity speaking) large particulates?

            What is more, many FP2 masks are designed to freely vent exhaled breath, meaning should the wearer be (a)symptomatic they are likely also freely venting contagion!

            But your right, strange how the left and MSM started banging on about everyone needing to wear masks when Trump declined to wear them. Why didn’t the left and MSM kick-up and demand we all cut up an old t-shirt like the DHSC suggested back in mid March, what is more something like that or wearing a bandanna, both double-layered, over the nose and mouth could well be better than than using FP2 masks.

  64. Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    If Boris enforces masks to shop we can kiss goodbye to our shops. Nasty of him too, to make everyone go on diet, simply because he is a glutton.

    • Jonah
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Agreed, talk of masks is a backward step. The government have to come clean on the chances of ending up in an ICU bed for different age groups. Wrap the vulnerable up in cotton wool, spend money making them safe and happy and let the rest of us get on with it…..I remember very early on messages from Matt Hancock saying things like ‘this is a very mild illness to most people’, we need more of that type messaging again.

      • jerry
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        @Jonah; All are at risk, the early messages have been proved at best ignorant and at worst a lie. People of any age can end up in ICU on a ventilator, not just the aged and known vulnerable. Quite a few people are walking the streets with undiagnosed health issues, believing they are 101% fit, even playing sports and working out in gyms etc.

        The UK has missed a bullet, any second wave handled in the way you suggest and we might not be so lucky, pay more attention to what’s happening in the USA.

  65. Passingby
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    So it has come to this then blame all our woes on the French and Germans because they wouldn’t reciprocate when our businesses sold out to them and foreign investor’s- as if we were as pure as snow in our own time never exploited a situation.

  66. Cavewell Man
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    A brief and brilliant analysis John. I do hope your very sensible views are seriously taken on board by the government.

  67. Iain Gill
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    all the supposed free trade agreements we are working on seem to be tied to allowing more immigration from the respective countries. dont think thats what the public had in mind when they voted for brexit.

    • Posted July 11, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      It is appalling. I do not think the government now regards itself as a government of or for the British.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        yes the whole political class is completely and utterly at odds with the vast majority of ordinary decent people.

  68. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 10, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    This is one of your more depressing reads John. How the hell did all this happen? What’s worse is that foreigners own our water companies and energy companies. It’s disgraceful. Just what has membership of the EU given us? Nothing!

    • jerry
      Posted July 11, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      @FUS; “How the hell did all this happen?”

      Well we are in the right place to ask, given that our host had not only a front row seat but was (at least for a time) up on centre stage, alongside Mrs T and a certain Arthur Cockfield, Baron Cockfield – who ever he was…

      Reply Yes I advised against signing the Single Market Treaty

      • jerry
        Posted July 11, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        @JR reply; But it wasn’t the Single Market treaty that did the real damage but the Single European Act, without that the SM would not, could not have happened.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 12, 2020 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          That is a very pedantic legal point.

  69. XYXY
    Posted July 11, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Well said JR. How on Earth are you not in government?!

    The liberal/socialists in the Conservative Party these days are not worth voting for. IR35 – pah. They might win their Red Wall while losing their core vote.

  70. Edwardm
    Posted July 17, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I agree.
    Most of our utilities and many train companies have also been acquired by foreign government owned companies that do not trade o the open market.
    Essential British utilities and core industries, like ones you’ve listed above, and such as Steel, Telecoms, Defence, Medical, AI, Radar and other high tech industries, should remain majority British owned and only sold to companies that themselves are tradeable.
    We should make that a condition after the transition period (along with fines for companies that attempt to move these facilities abroad, as a result).
    I raised such concerns with Roger Helmer a decade ago. Our governments show such naivety , or they believed in the EU more than the UK.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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