The rivalry between Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson led to the eventual demise of BritishVolt, the firms former CEO has said.
Speaking to Ed Conway on Sky, Orral Nadjari said Britain has now missed its window of opportunity to build a battery industry, laying the blame at the government’s door.
The electric car battery company collapsed in January almost a year to the day since BJohnson, the then-prime minister, trumpeted the number of jobs being created at the site.
It has since been described as a ‘monument to global Britain’s empty hype’.
Now, in his first interview since its implosion, co-founder Orral Nadjari blamed government bureaucracy for its failure.
“We lost that window of opportunity,” said Mr Nadjari. “We already are behind East Asia. We’re already behind continental Europe. The UK, unfortunately, has lost out or is losing out on the gigafactory economy, which is massive in terms of job creation.
“Unfortunately we didn’t see that same support from the Conservative government in order to level up the North East. Because the North East wasn’t as important for them as maybe other places in this country.”
The government agreed in principle to provide funds to help the company build the factory, but the Treasury repeatedly dragged its heels, Nadari said.
Even after all the necessary paperwork had been done, the relevant papers sat on the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s desk for months before being formally approved.
That delay was fatal, Nadjari alleged, because it meant that Britishvolt ended up trying to raise most of its money at a period of war and sky-high inflation, when global investment was cratering.
“Nobody could foresee a two digit inflation, that the country hasn’t seen since 1955,” he said, adding that Britishvolt was “caught between a rock and a hard place” as Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson battled during the former prime minister’s last days in office.
“Nobody could foresee three different prime ministers, four different chancellors… The UK saw a very turbulent time… and for a startup, what is important is that continuous capital injection and that really halted off and unfortunately because of that rivalry, we were hit with a delay.”
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