Prime Minister Talks to First Minister Over Steel Crisis

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, to discuss Tata’s decision to pull out of the British steel industry. The decision has a significant impact to the Welsh Town of Port Talbot where steelworks are situated.

A Government spokesman said:

“This afternoon the Prime Minister had a constructive call with Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to discuss the urgent situation with Tata Steel in Port Talbot.

Both the PM and First Minister agreed it was an extremely worrying time for the workers and wider community in Port Talbot, and South Wales more broadly. They also agreed that the UK and Welsh Governments would continue to work together closely to do everything possible to secure the future of steel making at Port Talbot and elsewhere in the UK.

The PM and First Minister pledged to work to support a sales process that delivers a sustainable long term future for the plant. They also agreed to remain in close contact in the days ahead at both official and ministerial level”.

Government Rule out Steel Nationalisation

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The Government has ruled out nationalising the steel industry saying that “it is not the answer”.  John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, called for the Government to “get a grip” on the situation, with 40,000 jobs at risk following Tata Steel’s decision to shut down UK operations.

Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, issued this statement:

“I am deeply concerned about the situation. I think it is absolutely clear that the UK steel industry is absolutely vital for the country. We will look at all viable options to keep steelmaking continuing in Port Talbot. We also are very much alive to the human cost. We want to make sure that no worker is left behind, so where workers are affected, that we’re doing everything we possibly can to help them and their families.

Options – renationalise

At this stage, given the announcement from Tata has just come out, it is important we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and look at all viable options. I don’t think that nationalisation is going to be the solution, particularly if you take into account the big challenges the industry faces. But there are solutions to this once we understand the situation better and we want to make sure that we explore all of them.

Who is going to buy a business that is losing a million pounds a day?
Well actually Tata has announced recently another part of their steel business in the UK that they were planning to close down, and a buyer has been found for that. Recently, there was an announcement for part of their business in Scotland where a buyer has been found. So I think there are buyers out there. It might require some kind of government support, and we are more than ready to look at all ways that we can provide commercial support to really secure the long-term future of steelmaking in Port Talbot.

How long would you give that support for?

I think we will look at all options. Right now it is too early to tell what options are exactly on the table, because we want to speak to potential buyers, but the good thing is that we have been in discussions with Tata for a number of weeks over a number of issues that they have faced. I spoke today to the head of Tata and we have his assurance that we will work together constructively to try and secure the long-term future of steelmaking in Port Talbot.

Message to workers and their families

I think this kind of news is absolutely devastating for a local community. For so many workers in a place where steelmaking has been the culture, the fabric of the community for such a long time, I am very much alive to that human cost, and my assurance to them is that the government will do everything it can to keep steelmaking in Port Talbot. And secondly, where workers are affected, to make sure that that impact is minimal and we do everything we can to help them and their families”.

John McDonnell said:

“I think in the short-term nationalise to stabilise and then look at the plans that have been brought forward by a combination of workers and management, which is about restructuring the company. Too many jobs are at stake, we know we’ll need steel in the future and it’s better for that steel to come from our own country than elsewhere”.