Tories pledge state aid for stricken firms – but can't say when they'd use it

Boris Johnson today pledged a new ‘state aid’ regime to help stricken firms with government cash after Brexit .

The Tory leader claimed the country could “enjoy the benefits of Brexit” by ripping up current rules that prevent governments intervening in private industry.

But when he was challenged to name one firm he would have saved in the last 10 years, the Prime Minister could not think of a single one.

Top Tory Michael Gove claimed it would be unfair to look back at firms retrospectively.

The move was seen as an attempt to park tanks on Labour’s lawn after the party called for more state intervention in struggling industries.

It came as Labour denied changing its strategy to focus more on attracting Leave voters with pledges to negotiate a Brexit deal that protects workers’ rights.

The Tory leader launched an appeal to traditional Labour voters

Allie Renison of the Institute of Directors claimed the plans “suggest a retreat away from free and open markets”.

She added: “This is not the kind of divergence we should be seeking in the first instance.

“It seems like a bad solution in search of the wrong problem.”

The Conservatives said EU state aid law imposes a number of restrictions on the support that the UK can provide to industry, and is “notoriously vague”.

They added: “The state aid rules have a chilling effect on Government support for industry.”

The party has also committed to scrapping the tampon tax, leaving the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), and promoting a “buy British” rule for public bodies.

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During a press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson said: “Today we are setting out some of the specific ways in which we will change EU law so as to enjoy the benefits of Brexit without delay.

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General election manifesto policies 2019

“We will back British business by ensuring that the public sector buys British. We will scrap the tampon tax.

“We will back British industry by making sure that we can intervene when great British businesses are struggling.

“These are some of the benefits that will directly result from leaving the EU.

“In addition we will also take steps to ensure that the Australian-style points-based immigration system is in place by January 1 2021.”

Mr Johnson said if a Tory government is returned to power the UK will leave the EU on January 31 and will “immediately get to work on unleashing the benefits of Brexit”.


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