Eurosceptic media mocked for ‘Brexit victory’ gushing over car plant deal

‘Having to pay £500m isn’t a win, it’s another cost of Brexit. Where are those extra maths lessons?’

Express headline

The Brexit-backing press have been out in force this week, relishing over the news that a car manufacturing company is set to announce a new electric car battery plant in Somerset.

The chairman of Tata Group, which own Land Rover and Jaguar, is due to visit London next week, to finalise details about the new multi-billion-pound manufacturing plant. The deal would create up to 9,000 jobs and inject billions into the local economy, according to industry reports.

The pro-Brexit press have hailed the announcement as a ‘crucial Brexit win,’ with Britain beating Spain to land the deal. “The Tata Group is said to have originally considered choosing Spain as the country to build the battery plant,” wrote the Mail, adding: “However, the expected decision to choose Somerset will be viewed as a major achievement for the UK in the wake of Brexit.”

Meanwhile, the Express devoted its entire frontpage to the story, with a headline reading:

“Coming to UK! Car Plant Deal Worth Billions: Who said Brexit is bad for business?”

“Britain has won a Brexit battle with Spain to persuade a manufacturing giant it should build a crucial electric car battery plant here,” gushed the newspaper. Taking a swipe at Keir Starmer, the article claims the deal ‘makes a mockery of Sir Keir Starmer’s claims that an ‘improved’ Brexit deal is needed amid concerns UK car plants will otherwise be put at risk.’

Brexiteers haven’t had much to rejoice about since the UK left the EU, so shouting about the potential deal with the Tata Group and a ‘win’ over Spain, is to be expected. That said, their reportage hasn’t been short ridicule online. One puzzled reader pointed to how just last week, several big global carmakers called on the government to renegotiate the Brexit deal, saying rules on where parts are sourced from threaten the future of the British automotive industry.

Jaguar and Ford joined Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen brand owners Stellantis, to warn the transition to electric vehicles will be knocked off course unless the UK and EU delay stricter “rules of origin”, due to kick in next year, that could add tariffs on car exports.

The announcement that ‘Jaguar Land Rover-owner chooses Brexit Britain over Spain for multi-billion-pound car battery plant’ – as GB News worded it – came barely a week after the news that Jeremy Hunt offered the owner of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) £500m in subsidies in an effort to persuade the carmaker to build a new electric battery plant in Britain.

A government source told the Guardian that the treasury package includes a cash grant and reductions in energy costs, as well as covering the cost of upgrading the power network and transport connections around the site identified in Somerset.

It was the Times that had first reported that the government was willing to meet Tata’s request for £500m, following months of negotiations.

The package of incentives put forward by the Chancellor was made as Tata was in the process of deciding whether to build the new electric battery production facility in Spain or the UK.

In the wake of the Brexit-backing press’s fawning over the potential Tata deal, the £500 incentive package was raised.

“How is this a Brexit win? It is good news, but nothing to do with Brexit. It was simply a battle of subsidies,” wrote one confused Twitter user.

“Having to pay £500m isn’t a win, it’s another cost of Brexit. Where are those extra maths lessons?” asked another.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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