Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has called on the Government to fight for the future of the ailing steel industry – or risk ‘signing its death warrant’.
The Labour politician said steel manufacturing faced ‘vast challenges’ in the wake of the decision by steel producers Tata to sell all of its UK assets.
But, during an emergency debate at the House of Commons, Mr Wright MP said it was time to ‘look to the future’ to ensure steel remained at the heart of UK manufacturing.
Mr Wright said the Government could do more to protect workers’ jobs – including the 500 employed at Tata’s Brenda Road site in Hartlepool.
He said Business Secretary Sajid Javid had been left ‘blindsided’ by Tata’s bid to sell up, and that warning signs should have been acted upon earlier.
Mr Wright said: “He (Mr Javid MP) was left blindsided by Tata’s decision.
“There was no effective early warning system in place.
“He should have gone into bat with Tata for the British steel industry.”
Mr Wright says tackling issues and business rates and giving British firms the best chance to win contracts put out to tender could be key to leading a revival.
He insists the trouble-hit sector can still thrive in the future – with the weight of Whitehall behind it.
Mr Wright added: “We have got to look to the future and make sure we have a sustainable steel industry.
“It is important to recognise that steel should not be seen as an obsolete industry, and its future is absolutely essential to much of British manufacturing.
“We shouldn’t talk the industry down, that would further hasten the signing of the industry’s death warrant.”
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne could make an announcement ‘in the coming days’ on Ministry of Defence acquisition of British steel.