The future of the British motor industry and renewable energy in the UK is at stake as the new Government combs over the billions committed by Labour to supporting UK companies.
In March alone, in the run-up to the election, Lord Mandelson, the former Business Secretary, pumped £1.8 billion of taxpayers’ money into British industry.
It was a spending campaign that was centred on projects in marginal constituencies. Many were industrial seats under attack from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. In the words of Ken Clarke, then his Shadow, Lord Mandelson was behaving like “a Bourbon monarch going round in his coach throwing out gold coins”.
Those commitments may not be easily reversed. Loan guarantees totalling £650 million were made to Ford and Vauxhall to ensure that the American-owned motor giants continued investing in car manufacturing and engine production in the UK. If the Government performs a U-turn on a £20 million grant to Nissan, the Japanese motor manufacturer may reverse its plans to build 50,000 electric cars a year at its Sunderland factory.
Lord Mandelson also wrote a clutch of cheques to kick-start investment in wind and marine energy projects — renewable power initiatives that experts claim are needed if the country is to replace coal-fired power stations and not become reliant on nuclear reactors. The money was aimed at projects to produce thousands of “green jobs” in locations from Cornwall to the North East, and from the dockyards of Edinburgh and Glasgow to installations on the Pentland Firth.