Tonight’s events have been absolutely extraordinary. Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced that MG Rover had called in the receivers, and that 6,000 jobs were on the line.
This is bizarre enough. The government does not announce that a privately run business has called in the receivers, the business does it itself.
But it’s worse. Because, according to MG Rover, Hewitt’s claim is completely untrue.
They had not called in the administrators. They had not called in the receivers. They had not called in the liquidators.
At this time, if it was to have any hope of survival, MG Rover needed maximum confidence. It had to put up a united front with the government and its stakeholders to show that it was a worthwhile deal.
Now all hope of that is gone. Patricia Hewitt has dealt it a devastating blow. The prophecy is self-fulfilling — by jumping the gun and saying that adminstrators have been called in, she has made it certain that they will be called in.
Could MG Rover have survived? I don’t know. But there was still a fighting chance.
Now, there is almost none.
Bad news, perhaps, for the government in an election campaign. But devastating news for the 16,000 people whose jobs are now on the line. It may mean that Labour lose a few seats. They deserve to. But it means that thousands of hardworking people — many the main or only breadwinner in their families — will be stranded, with little prospect of future employment.
Who killed MG Rover? “I” said Patricia Hewitt.
To have failed to help MG Rover adequately is a shame. To have dealt its death blow is a scandal.