Brexit to blame for collapse of electric car battery company Britishvolt, Tory grandee William Hague says.
The collapse of UK car battery start-up Britishvolt is because of Brexit, the former leader of the Conservatives Lord Hague has said.
The Tory peer blamed the UK’s decision to leave the EU for the company’s failure to secure enough private investment to develop a gigafactory in the North East to supply batteries for the UK’s electric vehicle market.
Lord Hague said the bankruptcy was “part of the damage” of Brexit, adding it was “very concerning”.
Lord Hague told the News Agents podcast:
It’s a sad reflection probably on Brexit because of course, what do you need in some of these technologies, you need scale, you need to know there’s a big market.
“If you are going to succeed with batteries, you need big manufacturers to be in the same market using those batteries. So, that’s part of the damage that has been done by leaving the EU.”
Lord Hague, who ran the Tories as leader of the opposition between 1997 and 2001, said Britain is not going back into the single market “for many years to come – if ever”, but he added that investing in net zero technologies should go hand in hand with the levelling up agenda.
Britishvolt had been developing a £3.8 billion giga-factory in Blyth and received tens of millions of pounds of financial backing from metals giant Glencore.
But, in November, it fell into emergency funding talks after revealing it was close to entering administration, and managed to secure funding to keep it afloat in the short term.
Its failure to get off the ground has piled further pressure on Rishi Sunak to demonstrate how the UK economy will grow in the coming years.
It comes as Liz Truss’s supporters on the backbenches have set up a new caucus, called the Conservative Growth Group, to hold the Prime Minister’s feet to the fire on prioritising economic growth.
Addressing the collapse in the Commons, Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds branded the collapse of Britishvolt into administration “in no uncertain terms a disaster for the UK car industry”.
Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Business Secretary said:
Unless this Government wakes up to the scale of transition that is required, we will not only risk many of the good jobs so many of our communities rely upon, we will miss out on one of the greatest economic opportunities this country has ever had.
Business minister Graham Stuart insisted the Government’s “ambition to scale up the EV industry on our shores is greater than ever”.
He said: “We want to ensure the best outcome for the site and we will work closely with the local authority and potential investors in order to achieve this.”
His comments came as Tony Danker, director of the CBI, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that global investors were shunning the UK due to a lack of any coherent economic plan and a failure to keep pace with the US and Europe.
Tony Danker, director of the CBI, said:
Money is leaving the UK. Investors are freezing up and the heart of the problem is that we don’t have a strategy.
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Brexit to blame for collapse of electric car battery company Britishvolt, Tory grandee William Hague says, January 18, 2023