Recent statements by Government Ministers that foreign ownership of British firms might not be in our best interests have been welcomed by the nationalist Trade Union Solidarity.
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Lord Mandelson stated that the country needed to be "mindful" of the long-term effects of foreign ownership and that over a period of perhaps 20 years, foreign ownership could "disadvantage" the location of UK manufacturing plants. This followed City Minister Paul Myners complaint that too many British companies were falling into foreign hands because their shares are owned by international funds with little concern for their domestic heritage. Myners told the Guardian: "It is easier to take over a company here than anywhere else in the world."
Solidarity General Secretary Patrick Harrington welcomed the statements but sounded a word of caution:-
"If the Government were to about-turn on its policies and actually follow Gordon Brown's "British jobs for British workers" rhetoric by protecting British industry from foreign takeover we would be the first to applaud.
Unfortunately the Government got us into this predicament in the first place by encouraging foreign ownership. As the credit crunch bites (another by-product of Government de-regulation) these owners are cutting costs by moving their capital to cheaper wage economies and Britain is now the most vulnerable country in Europe."
He added "We fear this is actually another NuLabour spin in the run up to the General Election in a desperate attempt to get the British workers vote by blaming foreign owners for job losses without actually preventing the losses?."
In recent times many household named companies have been sold to foreign owners including BAA – owner of Heathrow airport – ICI, Pilkington, BOC, Marconi, Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester and British Energy.