It cannot be other than good news that a rescuer has been found for the bankrupt remains of British Steel, and in particular for its ‘long products’ plant at Scunthorpe — even if the buyer, at a token £50 million but with a promise of £1.2 billion of investment, is a little-known Chinese group, Jingye, owned by a former communist party official, Li Ganpo. Jingye has stepped in after potential offers from the Anglo--Indian tycoon Sanjeev Gupta and a Turkish steelmaker, Ataer, failed to firm up. Some 4,000 British Steel jobs, and many more in its supply chains, will be saved if this deal goes through. But still we might wonder at Jingye’s motivation.
Chinese dumping of cheap steel has already wreaked havoc in the rest of the world; it seems unlikely there’s anything Scunthorpe can make that Shanghai can’t make cheaper, or that Mr Li is excited about orders from UK infrastructure projects that might never happen, such as HS2, let alone British Steel’s potential to win business from our soon-to-be-former EU partners.