On Tuesday we saw how his extraordinary dithering over the Highthorn planning application illustrates how he can’t be working for Boris. And yesterday we were hoping that – despite his indecision gifting jobs to Russian miners – he isn’t on Vladimir’s payroll. But what about Keir Starmer’s?
If Labour is to regain power, Keir needs to repaint the Northern Wall. To do that he must demonstrate that the Conservatives don’t care about the Northern economy.
And what better illustration of a lack of concern than a planning process which doesn’t allow the North to compete with imports? Year by year the MHCLG has been squeezing our coal mining industry to death by not allowing replacement surface mines.
When the last remaining coal mine in England ends production next month it will mean that we will have exported a whole industry. Our steel and cement sectors will still need 5 million tonnes of coal a year. But it will all have to be imported.
It is the latest chapter in the hollowing out of industry which has made the North East the poorest region in the UK. Oxford’s Professor Dieter Helm told the BBC: “The story of the past twenty years is that…we have been deindustrialising, and we’ve been swapping home production for imports”.
The Professor said that this has not just been exporting jobs but also “increasing global warming” because the countries we buy from are not as carbon efficient as us at producing things.
Highthorn highlights the green accounting scandal at the heart of deindustrialisation. For the North’s economy is being ruined by the Government pretending that the things we import do not have carbon costs. In the eyes of Whitehall only making things here produces CO2.
This constant bias means that the North’s industries cannot get onto the playing field to compete.
So no wonder the miners in the North East are livid about Robert Jenrick’s vacillation over allowing a £100m private investment into a mine in Highthorn. For not only is it robbing them of jobs. It is a pointless sacrifice in terms of carbon emissions – dragging millions of tonnes of coal to the UK is hideously inefficient.
Without the Highthorn mine the jobs of 250 men and women will be thrown away – along with jobs at one thousand suppliers.
Robert Jenrick’s planning decision on Highthorn will tell Northern voters about the Government’s direction of travel as it intensifies its efforts to reach its 2050 Net Zero target.
So far all the Northern Powerhouse has delivered for the North is getting rid of power – power generated by coal. The North will swallow that sacrifice even if Germany and China are going in the opposite direction.
What they won’t accept is being banned by Robert Jenrick from providing the coal which our steel and cement industries need. If the minister wants to give Northern jobs to Russia miners then sooner rather than later he needs to leave his.
If the Government gets this wrong a lot of Conservative seats are set to change colour.
It was Keir Starmer namesake, Keir Hardie, who in the 1906 General Election first built Labour’s red wall in places like Newcastle and Sunderland. And it is Robert Jenrick who seems hellbent on helping him rebuild it.
Has the Chancellor hit the back of the net? Or are his attempts to revitalise the UK economy wide of the mark?
Join our LIVE WITH LITTLEWOOD cast this evening for a free-rolling debate on Rishi Sunak’s fiscal statement…from stamp duty to self-insulation.
Joining host Mark Littlewood will be journalist and commentator Isabel Oakeshott, the Academy of Ideas’ Claire Fox and renowned economist Andrew Lilico.
They’ll be joined by the Director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo, Matthew Lesh, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, Duncan Simpson, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, author and writer Jamie Whyte and the IEA’s Kristian Niemietz.
Along the way they’ll be discussing cancel culture, the West’s post-pandemic relationship with China and much, much more.
Be sure to join the debate – LIVE at 6 pm – here or on YouTube.
Surely not? But let’s look at the evidence.
For the last four years the Government has been blocking planning applications for surface coal mines. As a result the proportion of UK coal needs being imported reached 86% last year. Next month that will go even higher when the last coal mine in England closes without a replacement. Who is the principal beneficiary of the end of coal mining in England? Russia.
Last year 37% of the coal we imported came from the Motherland. This coal is for our strategic steel and cement industries. Some might question the wisdom of handing over such a vital industry to such a capricious regime. Vladimir Putin has form for using hydrocarbons to create international leverage.
That raises the question about what Robert Jenrick was doing when he lived in Moscow? Do the apparatchiks in the Russian Ministry of Industry raise a glass to Agent Jenrick every time an English coal mine shuts without a replacement? Have Robert and Vladimir been communicating on EncroChat?
Yet conspiracy theories are invariably wrong. So there must be another reason why Robert Jenrick is helping to transfer hundreds of jobs to Russia?
What kind of politician hands over the jobs of our Northern miners to Russian miners?
What about climate change? That would make sense if importing coal was creating less greenhouse gases than producing it in the UK. Yet the reverse is true. Last year dragging 6.8m tonnes of coal to this country from Russia and the USA created as much CO2 as flying 186 jumbo jets permanently around the Earth.
Don’t agree? Well here’s an offer. If XR, Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth want to provide us with their own estimates of the carbon transport costs of coal imports we will publish them in tomorrow’s final article. Will they do that? No, they will stay silent because when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions the activists are all about slogans not reality.
They will be as silent as The Guardian is about how much coal was used to create the steel and cement in its London headquarters. The Guardian’s slogan is “Keep it in the ground” – but if the paper wants to reduce Britain’s CO2 footprint they should change it to “Keep it in Russia”.
After all, while our coal production has plunged, Russia has announced that it wants to increase its coal production by up to 50%. Robert Jenrick seems determined that Moscow will have a growing export market here.
So what should we think about him? He’s clearly not interested in reducing carbon emissions. And the Russian theory surely can’t be true.
So who else might Robert Jenrick be working for?
Tomorrow: 3/3 Does Robert Jenrick work for…….?
What do the brick, blockchain and the bicycle have in common? Or the pencil and the postage stamp? How did a Miami beach bring the barcode into life?
Find out tonight as bestselling author and broadcaster Tim Harford talks about his latest book The Next Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy.
Tim, author of The Undercover Economist, Messy and more, is hailed as one of Britain’s finest non-fiction writers. Bill Bryson says the new book is “endlessly insightful and full of surprises”, whilst Malcolm Gladwell says “every Tim Harford book is cause for celebration”.
Tonight Tim will join host Mark Littlewood to discuss the ingenious, the curious and unexpected ‘things’ that teach us lessons about today’s complex world economy.
Be sure to join in the discussion – LIVE at 6pm – here or on YouTube.
Build, Build, Build is Boris’s big policy. Yet is Robert Jenrick’s MHCLG the smooth planning machine needed to roll out the PM’s vision? Hardly.
Constructing Britain’s hospitals and homes will involve huge amounts of carbon-intensive steel and cement. Yet getting rid of carbon is the First Commandment of the nation’s new religion. And MHCLG is paralysed by fear of the climate priests of Twitter…
However a poll out today shows that ministers have nothing to dread. Because XR – just like all the other media manias – is massively out of touch with voters. The poll by Kantar asked people to list their top priorities for the Government:
You – and every member of XR – can download the poll here.
People do still care about CO2. But the poll shows that the XR claim of mass support for sending the economy into reverse is rubbish. As Chairman Mao said “all reactionaries are paper tigers”…
Will trade be the key to driving the world’s post-pandemic economic recovery?
Trade secretary Liz Truss says free trade has “done more than any single policy prescription in human history to advance human progress and alleviate poverty”.
But there’s been a stark drop since the Covid outbreak began – with warnings that global trade in goods could plummet by over 30% this year.
So can there be a swift bounce back?
FREIGHT EXPECTATIONS – a new report out today from the Institute of Economic Affairs – examines the post-pandemic prospects for global trade.
It looks at the economic and political factors that could determine the strength of the recovery:
How quickly will Covid-related restrictions on exports – introduced by 80 countries around the world – be lifted? Will a backlash against China harm world trade? And what threat does creeping protectionism pose?
Report author Syed Kamall – the IEA’s Academic and Research Director and a former member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee – will be questioned on all this and more in The Definite Article, LIVE at 6pm.
JOIN IN THE DEBATE – LIVE at 6.00 pm – HERE or on YouTube.