Prime Minister David Cameron is to host crisis talks on the UK steel industry amid mounting pressure on ministers to guarantee the future of the Port Talbot steelworks and its 5,500 staff.
He will meet ministers in Downing Street to co-ordinate their response to Tata Steel’s plan to sell the plant.
Ministers have downplayed talk of nationalising the works but said state help could be used to engineer a sale.
Labour has urged ministers to “get their act” together and step in now.
While stopping short of calling for Tata Steel’s UK business – which directly employs 15,000 workers and supports thousands of others – to be taken into permanent public ownership, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the government must intervene to safeguard its future.
A Labour petition calling for Parliament to be recalled to discuss the situation has obtained more than 74,000 signatures but the government has ruled out the move.
The BBC’s deputy political editor James Landale said the government had been “caught on the hop” by Tata Steel’s decision to put the plant and the rest of its loss-making UK steel business, including plants in Rotherham, Corby and Shotton, up for sale.
Ministers say they are considering “all options” for the Port Talbot plant amid concerns that Tata Group, its Indian parent firm, will not let the search for a buyer drag on too long.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who has cut short an official visit to Australia to return to the UK, said nationalisation is “not a long-term solution” to the challenges facing British steel production.
But he has insisted the government regards steel as a strategically important sector and recognises the “human cost” that any disruption to production in Port Talbot would cause.
It is understood the government is looking at offering loan guarantees to potential buyers and …read more
Source:: BBC UK