Peter Hoskin

Has Brown set a BJ4BW timebomb for the Tories?

Has Brown set a BJ4BW timebomb for the Tories?
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Even now a reconciliatory deal looks hopeful, the Lindsey oil refinery remains a political minefield.  Putting aside the question of how the proposed solution of giving around half of the 200 disputed jobs to British workers sits with EU law, the goverment will be worried that all this sets a dangerous precedent.   There's a sense that now the genie has been let out of the bottle - and given a potent rallying cry thanks to Gordon Brown's deeply foolish and deeply misleading 'British jobs for British workers' claim - we will see more and more strikes like that in Lincolnshire.

It's a worry that'll be exercising Tory minds too.  Beyond the politically impossible - e.g. withdrawing from the EU - the only long-term solutions to the BJ4BW problem are education reform and welfare reform; giving British workers the skills they need to compete in a global labour market.  On paper, at least, a Tory government would put rocket boosters under those reforms.  But the effects would still take years to filter into the system proper.  In the meantime, it's impossible to imagine that British workers won't lose out to to cheaper, more skilled labour from abroad.  And a Prime Minister Cameron may find himself dealing with the political fallout.