Labour will force vote to block Conservatives from selling out Britain’s steel industry
Labour will today force a decision to retain vital protections for the British steel industry, with a motion empowering Keir Starmer to put forward emergency legislation to extend the UK’s current safeguards against cheap steel imports if the government fails to do so itself.
Before 30 June, the International Trade Secretary will decide whether to push ahead with plans to remove nine of the current 19 safeguards, as recommended by the Trade Remedies Authority and slammed by industry. The EU has extended its own steel safeguards until at least June 2024, and the US is also expected to do so.
The risks for the UK’s steel industry and communities reliant on steel jobs are great if the Government presses on. There is a surplus of steel in China and the excess of steel on the international market has pushed prices down. If safeguards are removed, the UK’s steel industry which is vital for our national security, critical infrastructure and provides high-skilled jobs, risks being dwarfed by competitors. According to UK Steel, just a 2% increase in global overproduction could wipe out demand for British steel.
The Government has said the International Trade Secretary “cannot extend the measure if the TRA does not recommend it”. But Labour has laid out plans for emergency legislation to do just that and extend the safeguards. The Party is asking MPs across the House to stand up for Britain’s steelworkers and support its motion – or risk the steel industry being sold out by free trade zealots in the Conservative Party.
Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, said:
“This Government is on the verge of selling out Britain’s steel industry. Slashing safeguards and opening the floodgates to cheap steel imports would be devastating for steel plants across our country and damaging for our wider economy.
“Any MP who represents a steel community should vote for this motion. Any MP who cares about the UK’s economy, our industries, our critical infrastructure, our national security, and protecting the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on steel should vote for this motion.
“The Tories have already betrayed British farmers this month and now they are preparing to do the same to British steelworkers. We cannot let that happen.”