Prime Minister David Cameron has said there are “no guarantees of success” in the government’s attempts to save thousands of jobs at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant.
Speaking after chairing an emergency meeting to address Tata’s plans to sell its UK steel business, the Prime Minister said the government was “doing everything it can” to prevent an estimated 15,000 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs from being lost.
Mr Cameron said nationalising the Port Talbot plant, which is home to the bulk of Tata Steel’s UK jobs, is not the best solution to the crisis, but stressed that the government is not”not ruling anything out”.
Comments from his small business minister, Anna Soubry, initially sparked speculation of a national buyout, before business secretary, Sajid Javid, said it was “not a long-term solution”.
The Port Talbot plant alone is said to be losing £1 million a day, leading experts to question whether or not the plant would be attractive to potential buyers. But commodities investor Liberty House has expressed an interest in purchasing part of Tata’s operations in the UK. The company last week agreed to buy to of Tata’s plants in Scotland, and is now saying it could buy its slab processing operations, but not the iron or steel plants.
“We are waiting to see what sale proposal is on the table before deciding whether to bid for any of the assets,” a spokesperson said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged ministers to “get their act” together to save the Port Talbot plant, and British steel industry as a whole. Mr Corbyn did not call for the government to buy Tata’s UK steel business, but stressed that the government must get involved.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the UK and Welsh governments said: “We remain committed to working with Tata and the unions on a long-term sustainable future for British steel-making.
“Both the UK and Welsh governments are working tirelessly to look at all viable options to keep a strong British steel industry at the heart of our manufacturing base.”
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general for policy and campaigns, said: “Our industrial base can best be supported by developing a long-term industrial strategy, protecting research and development investment to help raise productivity and ensuring energy costs remain competitive.”