New Publication

Government Spending and Debt: A New Approach

Rebuild Britain has produced highly acclaimed publications on the steps required to rebuild the British economy.

This is the third pamphlet published by Rebuild Britain. Our first two look at what is needed to rebuild the fishing industry and manufacturing.

We will not be able to move forward with a strong economy unless we attend to Britain’s finances and the position of the financial sector. More austerity, more national debt, more market madness, greater inequality and rising prices are not the answer. This pamphlet shows how they can be avoided.

Written in an accessible style, this pamphlet provides an educational tool for trade unionists and community activists setting out the straightforward solutions that are needed and urges readers to translate them into new policies in their organisations.

Public finances, that is the income and expenditure of government, and private finance, that is the vast wealth in money of the banks, pension schemes, insurance companies and money traders in general, have for a long time been regarded by workers as mysterious, with an aura of magic. The operations of the great institutions of finance are seen as alien, unfathomable and complex.

In truth, there is no mystery, just mystification; no complexity, just confusion.

For trade unions, public finance has often been regarded as a secondary question to the bigger, priority issues of pay and conditions, economic strategy and industrial policy. In fact, public finance is the bigger picture. It is the scaffolding that buttresses and conditions the shape of the nation’s whole economy. Sound, stable public finances are the pre-requisite to any serious attempt to rebuild industry, revive agriculture and public services and combat climate change.

Finance Cover

You can download a PDF copy from here.

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Rebuild Britain's Manufacturing

A Strategy for Revival


The devastating decline of British manufacturing over many decades is widely agreed.

Now, we have to stop pretending that we can sustain a viable economy for the long term without rebuilding a larger and stronger manufacturing base.


Britain has a trade deficit chasm because we  import vastly more than we export. We have largely stopped making things and buy too much from abroad, especially from the EU.

UK investment levels have been chronically low for many decades and we remain at the bottom of the OECD investment league table of industrial nations. That has to change.

The renaissance of British industry will not happen if left simply to market forces.  It must be driven by government action on many fronts.

Our pamphlet will demonstrate that the disappearance of so much of Britain’s historic manufacturing base has been extraordinary and exceptional by any comparison. It draws attention to the collapse of Britain’s manufacturing employment, the fact that Britain has persistently failed to invest, with the lowest level of investment in the developed nations of the OECD, leading to a yawning trade deficit chasm.

Our pamphlet argues that a significant cause of Britain’s industrial weakness has been its long term overvaluation of Sterling, making our exports expensive and imports cheap, and that managing the Sterling exchange rate down to an economically appropriate and competitive level is necessary to underpin any possible recovery in manufacturing.

Beyond this primary necessity the state must:

  • Drive a ‘Buy British’ public procurement strategy
  • Promote the on-shoring of manufacturing production, especially of supply chains
  • Develop an active and effective government role in driving up domestic investment
  • Legislate to ensure a substantial expansion in the national skills base
  • Substantially  expand  state aids to industry and regional industrial support
  • Expand the role of public ownership including an urgent nationalisation of the steel industry
  • Establish a new commission for industry involving government, employers and trade unions.
Robot welding

Policy Connect

Policy Connect is an All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group that recommends a national ‘Made Smarter’ service to put UK manufacturing at the heart of recovery from the pandemic, and beyond to net-zero.

Read more from Policy Connect here.

Donate to Rebuild Britain

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Rebuild Britain Twitter Feed

Positive signs that Labour has recognised the importance of rebuilding Britain's manufacturing capacity outside the EU.

Some of the media reports following an interview with Kier Starmer

In the speech, as reported in the Guardian on 14th February, Starmer said, "Labour would have practical plans to buy, make and sell in Britain..... We would be ... investing in skills, technology and quality jobs..."

The Birmingham Mail on 15th February reported that Starmer said that, "Labour...plans to back manufacturing, asking every public body to give more contracts to British industry and ... will pass a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses, including smaller firms."

On February 15th, reported that Starmer had stressed he would not seek to re-enter the EU once in government, and on Newcastle Radio on 14th February he said, "We've exited the EU and we're not going back. Let me be clear in the North East about that. There is no case for re-joining."   

"I want to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities, and that we have a clear plan for Brexit. That's what I'm working on."

These are positive signs that Labour has accepted the referrendum vote and intends to support the Rebuilding of Britain outide the EU. They must be held to that commitment.

Rebuild Britain's Fishing Industry


by Brian Denny

Fishing Boat

Develop our coastal communities for a sustainable future in an independent Britain

Brian Denny


There is no doubt that fishing communities have felt the full brunt of European Union membership under the Common Fisheries Policy just like other industries and areas have suffered from EU directives demanding the privatisation of our railways and the general de-industrialisation of this country.

As a result over 700,000 tonnes of fish are removed from UK waters every year by EU fleets that are allowed to fish up to the six-mile limit with virtual impunity.

Brexit Deal Bad for Fishing Industry

Yet the Brexit trade deal agreed at the end of 2020 was a further blow to the industry as EU boats will continue to fish in UK waters for some years to come. Added to this the EU has effectively put a blockade on fish exports on Britain with new customs arrangements and vindictively banned the import of live shellfish that are often landed from the same fishing grounds as French fishing boats.

Read more of the pamphlet online.


Download the full pamphet documenting the effects of EU membership on Britain's fishing, and how we can rebuild the industry. Each download is 12 MB.

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Cover Full

Government Failure to Protect our Fishing

Failure to support the British fishing industry in a deal with Norway could lead to hundreds of jobs lost on Humberside.

Read more

Make Britain Self-reliant

The pandemic exposed the foolishness of our reliance on other countries for manufactured goods. The shortages of things such as PPE for medical staff and respiratory ventilators for patients in intensive care underscored the need for self-reliance.
Bio Tech - Cropped

What is Self-Reliance?

Self-reliance is not self-isolation let alone self-sufficiency. Neither is it protectionist; it provides protection not protectionism; protection for the nation’s inhabitants and its natural resources.

It means creating a safe space to inhabit, a secure nation with a strong industrial base that can confidently forge non-exploitative links with other nations.

A corollary of self-reliance is respect for the environment. Looking after our own environment to ensure long-term sustainability will cease to be a box to be ticked or a tax to be paid and become an integral part of our economic activities.

Services Dominate Britain's Economy

A key aspect of self-reliance is the need to rebalance the economy away from the service sector. Services are important, including financial services, but they are subordinate to the sectors they service. Unlike manufacturing, they are not a primary source of wealth creation and treating them as such distorts the country’s economy.

Currently, services account for 80% of the economy, a ratio that is no longer sustainable; it is like having more TV service engineers than TV receivers. A national conversation on post-pandemic Britain is currently under way and everyone must be involved. Trade unions are leading the debate.

This is what the manufacturing union Unite had to say immediately after the trade deal with the EU was agreed:

‘The government must not be allowed to put its feet up and claim job done. Far from it. The new year will bring a need to roll up our sleeves in the national interest and build the broadest possible alliance to safeguard and advance the long-term interests of our manufacturing heartlands.’ 

The TUC spelled it out

“Now the prime minister must make good on his promise to level up Britain. And he needs to act fast. There can be no more pointing the finger at the EU. Government must deliver an industrial strategy for decent work, with investment in jobs and green industries in parts of the country that need it most.

“Ministers must also urgently build on this deal to overcome the barriers to trade and higher production costs many sectors will face which puts jobs at risk. And we will not accept a race to the bottom on rights.”

Unity Within Britain Needed

As this conversation develops, it will bring the various parts of Britain together. In particular, it will help to strengthen Scotland’s place within the union. Scottish workers will find that they have more pressing matters of rebuilding the country than wasting time talking about independence, a topic designed to separate them from their sisters and brothers in the rest of Britain.

Manufacturing Internship Overview-50

Rebuild Britain's Railways


by Bob Ansell

A self-reliant Britain will depend upon a modern, well-structured and efficient public railway.

But the future looks vague and uncertain at best after the delayed publication of the Williams Rail Review - the government’s independent root and branch review of Britain’s railway. The government has wasted two years since its initial consultation period closed, and then come up short on protecting our infrastructure.
The main conclusions of the Review are mixed. There will be a rebranding of course but the main substance of the report shows that the government is not committed to the main recommendations from those consulted. For example, ASLEF, Britain’s trade union for train drivers, put forward six key recommendations, all of which would contribute to rebuilding Britain’s railway network. ASLEF called for:
• A railway that is vertically integrated and in the public sector
• A responsive attitude to investment that is informed by local knowledge and decision-making
• Clear and reasonable ticketing options for passengers
• A railway that is part of securing healthy, connected communities with economic and social opportunities for everyone
• A safe and efficient, accessible railway
• A programme of infrastructure investment laid out that will benefit the whole of the country

To most people ASLEF has put forward sensible and even modest recommendations, and the public should ask why they have not been implemented in full.

But these recomendations have been largely ignored by the The Williams Review. While it does argue for some restructuring of the management of the railways and for more control of private contracts, in reality the proposals simply want to tinker round the edges.

Despite recognising the abject failure of the privatisation carried out by John Major’s government in 1994, the Review has failed to seize the opportunity to regain full public ownership and control for our vital infrastructure.

Bombardier Electric Train

Williams Review Weak and Vague

The Review is weak and vague on key issues. The position of the Rail and Maritime Union (RMT) is clear on these failures. It says that;

“The Government talk about ending a generation of fragmentation but then leave the same private companies in place under this arrangement to extract management fees that could be invested in building a truly integrated national rail network. The taxpayer carries all the risk while the train companies carry out bags of cash.

“If the Government were serious about recognising ‎the impact of failed rail policy down nearly three decades, they would cut out the middleman, strip away the dead weight of the private companies and work with their staff on building a transport system fit for the future, where investment in the workforce and infrastructure comes first.”

Rebuilding Britain means putting a stop to the private sector plundering of our railways, taking profits when they can and unloading the risks and losses on to the public when things look bad.

Rebuild Britain's Industry


by Geoff Carter

High precision inspection probe

What kind of Britain do we want?

A combination of events is forcing us to confront that and related questions with a new urgency.

What kind of Post Covid and Post Brexit economy and society should emerge from the devastation of Covid. What opportunities are offered by freedom from the EU? Can we also confront the climate crisis?

Unprecedented times require unique and creative solutions. Now is the time to seize the moment and begin to plan for and build an economy and ian inddustrial base that work for the people of Britain.

We need an industrial strategy guided by those who know their industries and how to build them for the future.

The Lucas Plan

Over forty years ago, workers at Lucas Aerospace developed what came to be known as the Lucas Plan, a radical alternative to redundancies and the military products and the working methods of the company.

Faced with massive redundancies in 1976, shop stewards from all the Lucas plants consulted their members and produced an alternative plan which included over 150 designs for alternative products. Many of the designs were for socially useful products in contrast to the military emphasis of much of the Lucas output.

What can we learn today from the Lucas Plan? Read more here.

Rebuilding Britain's Environment Outside the EU

The Environmental Case for Brexit

Book Review by Fawzi Ibrahim

Britain is and always has been a global leader in international environmental policy and law; and it can do even better now we are out of the EU. This is the striking message from Ben Pontin, author of The Environmental Case for Brexit, a non-polemic book whose purpose, says the author is to allay the fears of those who think that the EU is the only guarantor to environmental protection.

Taking ‘a broader socio-legal context’, Pontin explains the unique ‘British way’ of protecting the environment. He acknowledges the genuine concern expressed by environmentalists, concerns that have been manipulated and misrepresented by general media outlets during and after the 2016 referendum campaign, the purpose of which is to prove that that the UK is incapable of functioning as an independent sovereign nation. Though Brexit has been secured, attempts to undermine the British nation continues, the latest being the clamour for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The ‘British way’ writes Pontin, distinguished the UK from those countries that invented the European Economic Community and embraced ‘some kind of supra-nationalism’. Whilst they too had their own ways of doing environmental law, they were more willing than Britain to treat environmental law as something new to be treated with suspicion.


Britain, by contrast, ‘empathised it embeddedness in national heritage’. This point was highlighted in the speech Peter Walker, the Secretary of State for the Environment gave at the Human Environment Conference in Stockholm in 1972. Britain, he said ‘had the world’s most established regulatory laws regarding industrial pollution control and nature conservation, the foundation of which were laid by Parliament at Westminster in Victorian times’.

These laws [gave] the expression to the ethics of “good stewardship” and the “good neighbour”. They constituted a ‘dynamic mix of “public law” and “private law”, written or unwritten’.

Pontin argues that ‘the British way is an evolutionary process that is rooted years, decades and even centuries prior to Britain’s entry to the European Community’. Conservation and protection of the environment did not depend on which party was in power. ‘Politics and laws in the 1970s would bear fruit in reduced waste in the future’.

Air quality is a case in point. ‘The smoke control areas under the Clean Air Act of 1956 were designed to be implemented incrementally over many decades as cleaner alternatives to the traditional open domestic fire became available.’ The seeds of that legislation, Pontin emphasises, ‘were the air Bills put forward before Parliament in Victorians times’.

Similarly, for water quality. The difficulty with the “EU good” water parameter, Pontin notes ‘is that it is unrealistically rigid’. In contrast, the “British good” yardstick is ‘more incremental and pragmatic’ and therefore more efficient. Nature preservation tells the same story.

Pontin questions the narrative that Britain was the “Dirty man of Europe” and needed its ways mended by the discipline of the EU. This he says, ‘does not withstand scrutiny’.


In conclusion, Pontin writes ‘my analysis leans towards the desirability of the British way independent of the EU’. His argument is based on four main points: simplicity, accountability, autonomy and the lack of a compelling reason for Britain to be part of a common environmental policy and law.

He ends the book with a question posed by Lord Diplock during a House of Lords Select Committee hearing back in 1979: ‘The environment is protected domestically. Why hand over, if only partly, to a new jurisdiction?

The Environmental Case for Brexit - Book Cover

The Environmental Case for Brexit,
Hart Publishing, 2019
by Ben Pontin