Tata Steel : Corbyn urges Cameron to recall parliament over Tata Steel crisis
Jeremy Corbyn has called for parliament to be recalled to discuss the crisis facing the steel industry after Tata Steelput thousands of jobs at risk by revealing it plans to pull out of its UK business, including the country’s biggest steelworks at Port Talbot.
Related: UK minister: ‘temporary ownership’ of steel industry is an option – business liveThe Labour leader described the government as being “in disarray” in a letter to David Cameron calling for the recall of MPs from the Easter break. Corbyn has already cut short his holiday in Devon.Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is now on his way home from Australia to tackle the crisis, while Cameron is also returning from a holiday in Lanzarote.Downing Street sources said the prime minister was always due to fly home on Wednesday, but he is now expected to meet with ministers tomorrow for an emergency meeting to discuss the Tata Steel decision. After that, he will head to Washington DC for the Nuclear Security Summit.
Javid, who has faced mounting criticism for flying to Australia just as the steel industry crisis intensified, has been forced to cut short a trip during which he was going to attend a meeting on cyber-security on Thursday.
The government is considering providing financial support for Tata Steel’s UK business, including Port Talbot, to allow time for a buyer to be found to save thousands of jobs.
Anna Soubry, the business minister, said the government was prepared to look at a number of options to save Tata’s British business, which employs about 15,000 workers, including 4,000 at Port Talbot.The IPPR thinktank has claimed that at least 40,000 jobs are at risk from the crisis, including 15,000 at Tata Steel and 25,000 posts in the supply chain.Corbyn said: “The news that Tata is preparing to pull out of steelmaking in Britain puts thousands of jobs across the country and a strategic UK-wide industry at risk. MPs must have the chance now to debate the future of steel and hold ministers to account for their failure to intervene.“Steelworkers and their families will be desperately worried about the uncertainty. The government is in disarray over what action to take. Ministers must act now to protect the steel industry, which is at the heart of manufacturing in Britain and vital to its future.”Cameron has been on holiday in Lanzarote while George Osborne is also out of the country and heading to Paris for a meeting of the G20 finance ministers.Javid is understood to have spoken to Tata boss Cyrus Mistry on Wednesday morning while in Australia. The business secretary has been “monitoring the situation closely and getting regular updates” while he has been away, according to a government source.But Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP whose south Wales constituency of Aberavon includes Port Talbot, accused the government of “abject failure” in not standing up for the industry before Tata decided to pull out of the UK.Asked if the government could take a temporary stake in Port Talbot so that a buyer could be found, Soubry said: “That is an option. We’ve looked at all options.”Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Soubry declined to commit the government to taking control of a large part of the British steel industry. “I don’t know whether ‘own’ would be the right word. The most important thing is that we look at and continue to look at all options, and I do mean all options,” she said.One option under consideration is for the government to step in with temporary funding to keep Port Talbot open if a sale looks likely, but any fuller form of nationalisation is said to be off the table.Soubry said finding a buyer for the business would take months and called on Tata Steel to allow the government time to save the plant. Tata said it had given no specific deadline but that the business was under severe financial strain, and it said it had written down more than £2bn of assets while trying to keep the plant open in the past two years.Tata Steel, part of the Indian Tata conglomerate, announced late on Tuesday night that its board had rejected a turnaround plan for Port Talbot. Instead, it decided to sell the UK business, which includes the remnants of British Steel.
Union leaders travelled to Mumbai to discuss the company’s UK business, hoping that Tata would agree to a turnaround plan to keep steelmaking in Port Talbot and at other UK plants. The decision to sell will affect other Tata plants, including Rotherham, Corby and Shotton. It is in the process of selling its business in Scunthorpeto investment company Greybull Capital.Kinnock also travelled to Mumbai to make the case for Tata remaining in the UK. He said the company was not to blame and had invested large sums of money in an effort to keep the business going. Instead, Kinnock pointed the finger at the British government, which he accused of being a “ringleader” in seeking to prevent the European commission from being given powers to stop China dumping cheap steel.“We are rolling out the red carpet for Beijing,” Kinnock said, arguing that Britain was pushing for China to get market economy status at the World Trade Organisation, despite the fact that 80% of its steel industry is state owned. “They are in hock to China. Our commercial policy, our approach to trade and manufacturing, and our overall industrial strategy, is being dictated by Beijing.”He said Tata executives in Mumbai expressed frustration at the government’s lack of action to support the industry. Kinnock criticised ministers for agreeing to a multibillion-pound defence contract late last year that will use Swedish steel.
Soubry said she did not know “the fine detail” of the Scottish government’s rescue deal for the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants that allowed their sale to metals group Liberty House last week. She said the government was determined to save Port Talbot, but that it would be a far bigger task than the Scottish rescue.“There is this absolute determination by the prime minister, myself and business secretary Sajid that we want to see steel being made – not just rolled and milled – at Port Talbot,” Soubry said.The actor Michael Sheen, who grew up in Port Talbot, said the government had to provide as much support as possible and that Tata should be a responsible seller.Writing for the Guardian, he said: “The ‘determination’ that business minister Anna Soubry declared her government has to ensure that Port Talbot continues to make steel needs to now produce urgent action.”A government source said Tata Steel’s decision to look for a seller instead of shutting its operations gave ministers more options. “We will now want to work very hard to support that process. We want to look at ways that we can continue to support Port Talbot,” the source said.Related: We bailed out the bankers. Welsh steelworkers deserve no less | Michael SheenThe government does not accept that it has been too soft on blocking Chinese steel dumping. Officials have argued that granting China market economy status does not stop Europe increasing tariffs on Chinese steel, and claimed that the government’s action in the EU has been to stop changes to a ruling that could harm British consumers in areas other than steel.
Roy Rickhuss, the general secretary of the Community union, called on Cameron to meet him urgently to discuss how to save Port Talbot and the wider industry. “The UK is now on the verge of a national crisis. Tata Steel withdrawing completely from the UK risks destroying our entire steel industry. That would be a disaster both for those communities reliant on steel jobs and our entire industrial base,” he said.“I am calling on David Cameron to meet with me urgently to discuss how his government and my union can work together to safeguard the future of our steel industry.”Copyright © 2016 theguardian.com. All rights reserved., source Guardian Online