Is This What the Conservative Government Means By ‘Levelling Up’?
Several months ago the British Movement Northern region website carried an article attacking the false promises of the Conservative government’s ‘Levelling-up’ strategy which claimed to be aimed at bringing economic and investment opportunities to the North of England, particularly to the ‘Red Wall’ constituencies of the North-East and North-West of England.
Now a much trumpeted ‘levelling-up’ project in Northumberland is exposed as a hollow promise. Britishvolt – a new industrial initiative to be built at Blyth, was promoted as the spearhead project of a new ground-breaking British industrial leap forward, manufacturing batteries for electric cars. Britishvolt was described by the then Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the “global green industrial revolution.”
As far as the Conservative government were concerned Britishvolt would tick all the boxes, it would create a new ‘green’ industry in the North-East, it would create jobs, it would ensure global business investment and would demonstrate the ‘levelling-up’ policy in action.
The Times newspaper announced on February 22nd 2021 that, “Welcome to Blyth, the home of Britain’s new giga-economy.” The UK’s first giga-factory, Britishvolt, had applied to Northumberland County Council for planning permission to build its new industrial complex.
Britishvolt had already purchased the 93-hectare site from Northumberland County Council for a cool £4.8 million. The site was empty land on the Cambois Peninsula on the north bank of the River Blyth.
The North-East news media was flooded with images of artists impressions of what the futuristic ‘giga-factory’ would look like, and promises that the £2.6 billion battery manufacturing plant, (later inflated to be described as a £3.8 billion plant), would be producing 300,000 batteries a year for the electric car industry. By 2027 the Britishvolt plant would be employing 3,000 local people with even more jobs created in the supply and distribution industry.
The construction and development company IG was scheduled to break ground in July 2021 and to start building the plant in September 2021. The Conservative government promised a major financial investment by HM Government with a substantial advance funding of around £30 million.
But there were problems in the Britishvolt board room, in early 2022 the original CEO resigned in the face of serious financial allegations, followed in August 2022 by CEO Orral Nordjan who remained as the chief shareholder. Overseas investment promises were starting to slide.
By late August 2022 the Northern Echo was admitting that the £3.8 billion Britishvolt plant at Blyth was now putting back production predictions by three years that production would now begin in 2025. So far, the Britishvolt site was employing just 300 people, but was renting central London office space in Mayfair and had leased the £2.8million mansion Newfield House just outside Blyth for executive use and as accommodation for overseas investment visitors.
On November 1st 2022, the news media were announcing that “Blyth gigafactory Britishvolt set to collapse into administration” and that the “Government refuses to advance the promised funding to save the Northumberland ‘levelling-up’ project it championed four months ago.” By November 7th the headlines were “Britishvolt advisors given weeks to find a buyer for Blyth plant.”
The floundering Conservative government rapidly backtracked on earlier promises and refused to provide the £30 million advance funding. The existing 300 Britishvolt workforce were declared to be taking a reduction in wages for November 2022 in light of the company’s financial difficulties.
At the time of writing it is unclear what will happen to Britishvolt. Of course Left-wing journalists are keen to pick up on the story and to exploit the abject failure of a major Tory ‘levelling-up’ project failing to deliver, although one leftist academic stretched the point by penning an article in the ‘Guardian’ claiming that the pending collapse of Britishvolt at Blyth had “exposed the great Brexit lie”. A bizarre conclusion given that the disaster of Britishvolt was squarely a combination of global capitalist investment sleight of hand and Tory government insincerity.
Whatever the final outcome, the Conservative ‘levelling-up’ promises have once again been exposed as just words and the real losers are the working people of Northumberland. A classic combination of betrayal of British working-class communities by globalist companies, international financiers, Conservative government falsehoods and mass media hype.
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