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UK Government accused of falling for Tata Steel’s ’empty bluff’ to walk away from Port Talbot

25 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock.

UK Government ministers have been branded “mugs” and accused of falling for Tata Steel’s “empty bluff” to close its Port Talbot plant.

Ministers argue their £500 million rescue package has saved 5,000 direct jobs and thousands more in the supply chain by ensuring Tata continues steelmaking in the town through a greener method using scrap metal.

But Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said they were “spinning this line” about Tata threatening to walk away from south Wales, adding the costs of dismantling and remediating the site were “vast and utterly prohibitive”.

He could be heard shouting “mugs” as business minister Nusrat Ghani rejected the criticism and defended the Government’s position.

Indian conglomerate Tata Steel last week confirmed plans to close the blast furnaces in Port Talbot – its biggest UK plant – with the loss of up to 2,800 jobs.

It said continued blast furnace production in Port Talbot was “not feasible or affordable” and the deal with the UK Government would help transition to a more sustainable, greener steel production using electric arc furnaces.

Speaking at business and trade questions, Ms Ghani said the Government’s commitment to the sector is “clear” given it is investing in the Port Talbot site.

She told the Commons: “The option was steelmaking no longer continuing at Port Talbot or the investment that we have provided.”

‘Spinning’

But Mr Kinnock (Aberavon) said: “So ministers keep spinning this line that Tata Steel was threatening to close down the Port Talbot works and walk away, but they know that that’s an empty bluff because the costs of dismantling and remediating the Port Talbot steelworks were vast and utterly prohibitive.

“Against that backdrop let’s be clear, is it the case that there were no strings attached whatsoever to the £500 million of taxpayers’ money that’s been given to Tata Steel and that that £500 million was given by the Prime Minister to Tata Steel along with a green light to make 2,800 steelworkers redundant?”

Ms Ghani replied: “I wouldn’t want steelworkers to think that we aren’t working together, and (Mr Kinnock) and I work together and will be working together on ensuring that steelworkers are protected as much as they can.

“So I think it’s extraordinary that the position he’s now putting forward is that it would have been better to risk the loss of absolute steelmaking in the UK then allow the taxpayer to pick up the cost to manage the site.

“I believe it is far more preferential that we made the largest investment ever in steelmaking to protect over 5,000 jobs at Port Talbot and the 12,500 jobs in the supply chain.”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened to calm tempers in the chamber, with Mr Kinnock heard saying “mugs” as the minister answered.

The UK Government has committed to invest up to £500 million while Tata will spend £750 million.

Tata said more than £130 million will be spent on measures including redundancy terms, skills retraining and help with job seeking.


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Dewi Evans
Dewi Evans
5 months ago

But what do you propose to do about the Tata bluff Stephen? Will you support Plaid’s proposal to nationalise the company, or is this just a load of waffle.

robin campbell
robin campbell
5 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Evans

Kinnock’s done his bit now!

Shifter
Shifter
5 months ago
Reply to  robin campbell

Kinnocks done his bit now opened is lazy mouth only thing he done is rob the tax payer for his wages like is old man a millionaire got that for doing nothing just a yes man for the EU.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

What are the chances of it being nationalised I wonder ?

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Ann

India doesn’t do climate change, pollution or anything else that gets in the way of stealing work and markets from countries in the West that have embraced the green view of the future. They like China and a few others are having a laff while we end up reverting to an impoverished level of existence with only a few grandiose financial institutions and global corporations doing well out of this mess.

Crwtyddol
Crwtyddol
5 months ago

Bearing in mind the 500 million, and the social security cost, etc of closing, its cheaper and better to nationalise and maintain operations

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