Leading article: Uncomfortable home truths

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Yesterday's announcement from Bombardier of 1,400 job losses at its Derby plant follows the train manufacturer's unsuccessful bid for the £1.4bn Thameslink contract.

The Government awarded the contract instead to the German-based manufacturer Siemens. The UK unions have put two and two together and come up with a demand for protection for UK-based manufacturers.

The Government has defended itself by arguing that European Union rules do not allow national considerations to be taken into account. But critics maintain that the French and German governments would never have allowed a foreign manufacturer to win such a battle, no matter what the EU rulebook says.

The Government certainly needs to do more to support British manufacturing. But a home bias for official projects is not the way to go about it. The objective should rather be to raise the quality of UK manufacturing so British firms can compete without needing a helping hand. This means funding apprenticeships, encouraging foreign investment, and rebalancing the economy away from finance. The goal should be to help British-based manufacturers into a position where they can be chosen for public projects entirely on merit.

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