Boris Johnson accused of failing to review Chinese takeover of Newport Wafer Fab Business

Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to order a security review into China’s takeover of Britain’s biggest microchip factory, despite promising an inquiry last summer.

MPs on the foreign affairs select committee said it was forced to conclude that no investigation into the sale of Newport Wafer Fab had taken place.

Newport Wafer Fab in South Wales was bought for £63million by Nexperia, a subsidiary of Chinese state-backed Wingtech, in July after falling into financial difficulty.

The government has come under fire for clearing the sale and Boris Johnson said shortly after its announcement that he had ordered Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the national security adviser, to look into the deal.

Newport Wafer Fab is Britain’s largest microchip factory by volume and its sale came during a global chip shortage that has delayed production of cars and electronics.

On Tuesday, committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said the committee had written to the government asking for clarification after saying there were no details of such a review being carried out.

He said: “The Prime Minister’s assurances that work is in progress are welcome. However, so few details were provided to the committee, we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that no review took place.

“Today the committee is calling on the government to clarify why the Prime Minister has requested a review at Newport Wafer Fab and why that review has not started. The government has the tools, it just needs to use them.

He added there was no evidence that new takeover powers introduced in January to protect national security were used to scrutinize the deal.

The committee asked the government to clarify the National Security Adviser’s involvement in the new National Security and Investment Act, why the National Security Adviser was asked to undertake a review of Newport Wafer Fab, and why, as he claims, a review did not take place.

The government said no decision had been made on the sale, meaning it could still intervene if it perceived a security risk. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, has the ability to override security advice and block a takeover.

Last week it was reported that Sir Stephen’s security review had taken place and found insufficient evidence to recommend blocking the deal.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-05 07:02:28

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