London MEP Syed Kamall has thrown his weight behind Tate & Lyle’s battle against EU’s regulation which threaten jobs at the Silvertown refining plant.

The cane sugar refiner, which employs 850 workers, says it’s under threat from protectionist EU rules which favour beet producers. The EU is the world’s biggest producer of beet sugar while cane comes from the African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

In October 2017 the EU will introduce a revised sugar regime which will enshrine these rules in law, eliminating all production restrictions for beet sectors, while enforcing strict import quotas and taxes on raw cane sugar for European refiners.

Tate & Lyle say they just want a chance to compete on equal terms and if the rules don’t change then they could be forced out of business.

On a visit to the plant, Mr Kamall said: “I’ve been speaking to a lot of people here who are worried about their jobs. Yet this threat isn’t because of problems in the market, it’s because of rules made in Brussels. I want to make sure that however people produce sugar, no one is having to try and do it with one hand tied behind their backs.

Gerald Mason, director of government affairs at Tate and Lyle Gail Orton and Syed Kamall MEP

“I’ll be using this case as part of my ongoing fight to protect Londoners’ jobs. It’s not about asking for favours, it is about asking for a fair and level playing field.”

He added, “This is one of our city’s truly historic firms. It’s been here since the 1800s. Many of the workers have worked here all their lives and their fathers and mothers before them. This success story could disappear.”

Tate & Lyle says it needs the EU to give them better access to sugar cane suppliers across the world.

Tate president Ian Bacon said: “Without fair solutions for cane sugar, dominance [of beet sugar] will increase to further concentrate the already condensed European sugar market – and this despite both the cane and beet sugar sectors having viable business models when free of legislator interference.”

Go to saveoursugar.eu