In what was hailed as “the most important bit of post-Brexit legislation yet” in a government statement to the BBC The Subsidy Control Bill has been published.

The government say it will “create a new system for subsidies that can enable key domestic priorities, such as levelling up economic growth across the UK and driving our green industrial revolution“.

It will replace the state aid rules that applied when Britain was part of the European Union (EU). Those rules require EU member states to seek approval for government assistance to firms so that there is a “level playing field” for capitalist competition.

In practice, this means a corrupt EU-wide system of favours and deals. National governments are allowed to subsidise some corporations in their own country so long as they support similar moves in other countries.

British governments often used the EU regulations as an excuse for not nationalising industries to protect jobs and workers’ wages. They said such moves would be blocked as “unfair competition”.

In 2019, for example, the Tories argued they could not nationalise British Steel because of the rules.

On the face of it good news for British workers. So why am I not celebrating? I just have no confidence that instead of moving to a more self-sufficient and participatory economy it will just mean more cash for the bosses that the Tories favour.

I fear that their multibillion awards to their cronies during the pandemic will now just happen on a much larger and sleazier level.


Acas has published a paper on the use of fire and re-hire practices, following a fact-finding exercise commissioned by BEIS but the government is not expected to legislate.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, Paul Scully  has stated in parliament that ‘It is unacceptable and, frankly, immoral to use the threat of fire and rehire as a negotiating tactic to force through changes to people’s employment contracts, or for employers to turn to dismissal and rehiring too hastily, rather than continue to engage in meaningful negotiations.

As to the way forward, Mr. Scully states:

However, having carefully considered the report, the Government want to send a clear message to employers: even if your business is facing acute challenges, all other options to save jobs and a business should be exhausted before considering the dismissal and re-engagement of staff. I believe that we can achieve this working in partnership with businesses and workers, without heavy-handed legislation.

In contrast, I believe that only legislation will stop the practice of fire and re-hire.

Patrick Harrington

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