Sajid Javid assures he's fighting for British steel "every hour"

 
Jessica Morris
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He assured the government will help find a commercial buyer for Port Talbot (Source: Getty)

Business secretary Sajid Javid said today that he's fighting for the UK's embattled steel industry "every hour of the day".

Speaking during a three-hour emergency debate regarding Britain's deepening steel crisis in the House of Commons, he said: "The challenges we face are great, the crisis the steel industry faces is global, but I am fighting for Britain's steel workers every hour of the day."

"I was fighting for them long before this crisis hit the headlines, and I will go on fighting as long as it takes because British steel workers are the best in the world, and they deserve no less."

Read more: Greybull or grey clouds? Why these are temporary solutions to structural problems in UK steel

While he said it wouldn't be "prudent" to go into potential government support for the ailing business, he assured that it's striving to find a commercial buyer to guarantee Port Talbot's long-term future.

"The key point is that any co-investment would have to be on commercial terms. Investment can take a variety of forms; for example, it could be debt. It’s a demonstration of all the options the government is looking at," Javid added.

He came under pressure from MPs for more details on last night's announcement that the government would consider the drastic step of co-investing with a private sector partner to help save the Talbot steel works.

"I’m not entirely sure what co-investment means in his terms," Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose South Wales constituency of Aberavon includes Talbot, said.

The emergency meeting was opened by Labour's shadow business secretary, Angela Eagle, who criticised the government's "ideologically driven reluctance" to get involved as the current crisis deepened.

"We’ll judge this government by its actions and achievements rather than its words," Eagle said.

Read more: Why the bank bailouts are no model to follow for the struggling UK steel industry

The sales process for Port Talbot kicked off yesterday, with Liberty House expressing an interest in buying the steelworks.​

Tata also announced the sale of its smaller Scunthorpe plant to Greybull Capital. The Long Products Europe business was sold to the investment firm for a token £1 or €1.

The move will safeguard 4,400 UK jobs, but workers are being asked to accept a pay cut and less generous pension arrangements.

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