Brexit could save Yorkshire steel

University of Leeds report suggests Brexit could be a game changer for the faltering industry.

A report conducted by the Leeds University’s Business School suggests Britain’s departure from the EU could save Yorkshire’s struggling steel industry provided the government adopts a number of new policies.  The findings provide hope for graduates wishing to enter an industry which, despite its difficulties, still features on University industrial placement schemes via the likes of Tata Steel.

The cross-party Steel 2020 report advises on the key policy and regulatory areas that the government should reassess to save the industry, while also warning of the potentially-devastating risks of not securing a good trade deal with the remaining 27 members.

Dr Ian Greenwood, Associate Professor in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at Leeds University Business School, researched and co-authored the 12-month inquiry.

“This is not special pleading for charity,” says the report. “Rather, it is the game changer that will free up capital to invest in improving energy efficiency and creating a level playing field with respect to global competitors; something that may be easier to achieve outside the EU. Leaving the EU should now be seized upon as an opportunity to go further and faster than continental partners in shaping an energy policy that supports UK industry.”

Similar deals to the one offered to car firm Nissan should also be provided to steel companies. Yorkshire still plays a key role in what remains of the industry, with Sheffield Forgemasters continuing to supply products for the British military and one in three aeroplanes in the world containing steel made in Stocksbridge. 

Despite the opportunities to set the industry’s future on a new path, the report also stresses the importance of securing a good trade deal with the remaining EU nations.

“It depends what Brexit looks like,” Dr Ian Greenwood told The Gryphon. “A trading environment framed by WTO tariffs and bilateral deals with much stronger economies does not bode well for UK steel. Like the vast majority of steel industry insiders and MPs, in respect of the steel industry I did not support Brexit. The risks for the industry, it’s people and communities are substantial.”

Jangira Lewis

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