Boris Johnson is right to stand strong on State Aid – we must invest in Britain's future

Boris Johnson is right to stand strong on State Aid – we must invest in Britain's future

BRITAIN is brilliant. From the spinning jenny to the jet engine, from the telephone to the internet, and from penicillin to Viagra, British inventors have made stuff that has changed the world.

Our brilliant minds have worked tirelessly, often at huge personal cost, to make the world a better place.

They’ve responded to our needs, and they’ve made stuff we never thought we could do without.

Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that we would read The Sun on Sunday on a computer screen?

Investors have taken risks, backing these ideas. But every now and again these ideas need an extra helping hand.

That is where the government can step in. And the government can help not just with innovation, but with the priorities we all value.

For example, we all value our mobility. We want to be able to get into our cars and go to the shops, visit family and friends, and take a trip to the beach. But we also want to protect our planet.

That is why our government has put aside £1billion for the Advanced Propulsion Centre, based at Warwick University, and a further £250 million for the Faraday Challenge. 

The Advanced Propulsion Centre is there to help our engineers develop new types of engines.


An inventor with an idea to cut carbon emissions can get help from the government, matching their own investment.

For every £1 invested by the designers into their idea that will help combine mobility with a better prospect for the climate, the government will contribute up to a further £1.

The same applies to batteries, needed to make these engines work.

The Faraday Challenge is there to make sure we are leading the world in design of batteries.

After all, it’s no good having the best electric motor in our cars of the future if we can’t get home from the shops.

Every now and again, the government will step in to help businesses struggling.

A good, high tech engineering company, with very high costs, may be struggling through a downturn.

We know the technology is good; we know the company has a future; but maybe right now it needs a bit of help to keep going.

Who pays for this? All of us as the taxpayer. But this is not money wasted.

When these new, innovative ideas go to the market, they create jobs and profits.

That generates taxes and we not only get our investment back, we also get more taxes than before.

That pays for the services we cherish – the NHS, our schools and more.

It gets even better.

With our vibrant and innovative economy, people and businesses from around the world want to come and invest in the UK.

More ideas and investment creates more jobs, more taxes, and more public services.

This help from the government is known as State Aid. 

But sometimes it can work against us. Another government may want to steal a march on our businesses.

They can do this by giving money to a competitor in their country, knowing that this help will undercut our prices, forcing our businesses into bankruptcy. 

More ideas and investment creates more jobs, more taxes, and more public services.

That is why there are rules about State Aid, about how governments can subsidise parts of their economies.

All governments want to both give their businesses and economy a helping hand, and to protect them from unfair competition at the same time.

We are leaving the EU on December 31 this year. When we go, we want to have a deal with our nearest friends and neighbours. But that deal is proving difficult.

Because we are so close to the EU, what we do here in the UK will have an effect on our neighbours.

The EU believes that if we change our rules on State Aid, we may use that as an unfair advantage for our businesses against theirs.

We might, they argue, help reduce our product prices, at taxpayers’ expense, to undercut their businesses.

So they want us to stick with their rules.

The World Trade Organisation also has rules. But these rules are less severe, less stringent.

So we want to go with those rules. After all, we are a country that strongly believes in the international rule of law.

Boris is right to fight for the UK to be able to set its own State Aid rules, within the boundaries of the World Trade Organisation.

He is right to want to do a deal with the EU that allows this. And he is right to demonstrate that we are upholders of the international rules based order.

Our future generations will come up with ideas that are inconceivable today.

So let’s get behind them and help them make the world a better place, all from these Great British Isles.

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