Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini, MG, Lotus, Aston Martin, McLaren: all fabulous British car marques. And all foreign owned. Even the iconic, world-famous London black cab is now made by a Chinese-owned company. And it’s not only cars, of course.  Almost all our most famous ‘British’ companies are now no longer British at all. From our beer and pubs (Fuller’s, Greene King, Newcastle Brown Ale) to our largest football clubs (Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool). From our food, where of Britain’s 150 biggest grocery brands, over two thirds are now foreign-owned (such as Tetley, Weetabix and Cadbury), to our factories, where the majority of manufacturing businesses that employ over 500 workers are now owned by foreign companies. 

Of course companies have always been bought and sold, but in no other country in the world does it happen on this scale. It really took off under Thatcher, who was famously accused by Harold Macmillan of “selling off the family silver”. In their 1987 song ‘Shopping’, the Pet Shop Boys sneered: “We’re buying and selling your history … Our gain is your loss, That’s the price you pay, I heard it in the House of Commons, Everything’s for sale”. But it’s not just the Tories. In 1999 the Blair government replaced the the Monopolies and Mergers Commission with the Competition Commission. This wasn’t just a change of name: the requirement to consider whether take-overs satisfied a ‘public interest’ test was abolished and the new organisation could only consider whether acquisitions would weaken competition. This left the regulator with no ability to protect the wider interests of the British economy. This actually accelerated the sale of British companies to their foreign rivals and in 2008 Private Eye summed it up with the headline: UK Sold to France: A Good Deal For Britain, Says Brown‘. 

Napoleon said that we were a nation of shopkeepers, but now many of our shops, from Asda and Boots to Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason, are all foreign. Even our most basic needs, supplied by our utilities, are controlled by foreign companies, from our energy (‘British Energy’, the nuclear power company, was taken over by the French state-owned EDF, and ‘ScottishPower’ is not Scottish at all, but Spanish, having been bought by Iberdrola), to our water (over 70% foreign-owned, including Thames, Northumbrian and Yorkshire). Even the National Lottery isn’t national any more, as it is now owned by a Czech billionaire. It’s not just classic brands either, but even the modern technology companies that our future depends on. In recent years cretinous Conservative governments have allowed ARM, the British microchip designer which was the jewel in the crown of Britain’s hi-tech industry and our one global technology giant, to be sold abroad, together with our defence industry which we rely on for our national security, such as Cobham, Ultra Electronics and Meggitt – not household names, maybe, but huge and absolutely key British defence companies.

photo of an industrial factory emitting smoke

This is against the national interest. When a British company is sold off to foreign investors all its profits go abroad. Instead of remaining in Britain and circulating in our economy, money earned in Britain makes foreign countries richer and more powerful, while we become poorer and weaker.  Foreign companies pay less tax (foreign firms that buy British companies using borrowed money are even able to deduct the interest on those loans from their tax bills!) and invest less in Britain. We lose jobs and skills, and eventually we lose our national resilience, security and independence. Politicians say that ‘foreign investment’ is good for Britain but they are too stupid to understand the difference between investment and asset-stripping – and too treacherous to care.   

Foreign investment – which is a good thing – is when foreign companies come and build new factories in Britain, increasing our economic output. But when they just come and buy up an existing company they are adding nothing, just sucking money out of our country. This isn’t investment, it is parasitic asset-stripping and is, unfortunately, only going to get worse, much worse, under the Truss government, with arch free-marketeer and laissez-faire liberal Jacob Rees-Mogg as Secretary of State responsible for industry. So it is with sadness but not surprise that I read that one of his very first decisions is to allow Inmarsat – Britain’s leading satellite company – to be sold off to a US rival for £5.6 billion.  

If Britain was run by Patriotic Nationalists, we would be protecting these British companies in order to benefit the British people, the British economy and British security, but instead the opportunistic spivs and traitors are in control and our country is being carved up and flogged off to foreign competitors. ‘British’ Airways, with its red, white and blue branding? Foreign. Beefeater London Gin, with its famous Yeoman Warder icon? Foreign. HP Sauce, with the House of Commons on the label? Foreign. Even Marmite is now foreign-owned. Love it or hate it? I know what I think!  

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