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Tata Steel crisis: Jeremy Corbyn petition to recall Parliament reaches 100,000 signatures

Around 40,000 jobs could be lost if no buyer is found for Tata Steel’s UK operations

Ashley Cowburn
Thursday 31 March 2016 13:25 BST
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A view of the Tata Steel processing plant at Scunthorpe
A view of the Tata Steel processing plant at Scunthorpe (Getty)

A petition urging the Government to recall Parliament and take “immediate action” to avert a crisis in Britain’s steel industry has passed 100,000 signatures.

The call to cut short the Easter recess for politicians was launched by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday and, at the time of writing, had more 110,000 people backing it.

The Prime Minister has insisted the Government is doing “everything it can” to deal with the escalating crisis in the steel industry – but echoed the Business Secretary’s comments that nationalisation is not the solution. Downing Street said they had no plans to recall Parliament.

An analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank found that around 40,000 jobs could be lost if no buyer is found for Tata Steel’s UK operations. They include Tata’s 15,000-strong workforce and 25,000 people who depend on it.

There is, however, a flaw with the petition: the decision for it to be considered in a Commons debate rests with petitions committee, which will not meet until Parliament returns from the Easter recess on April 11.

"The situation at Port Talbot is of deep concern. I know how important those jobs are,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.

He added: "Those jobs are vital to workers' families, vital to those communities and the Government will do everything it can working with the company to try and secure the future of steelmaking in Port Talbot and across our country, it's a vital industry."

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: "Ministers will continue to hold briefings to update representatives of other parties on the situation but we have no plans to recall Parliament. Our focus is on finding a long-term sustainable future for steel making at Port Talbot and across the UK.

Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for the South Wales constituency of Aberavon, told Sky News on Thursday morning he was “flabbergasted by the incompetence” shown by the government over the crisis. "It’s a total shambles, and it’s been a shambles for years," he said. "It’s absolutely extraordinary that they’ve been asleep at the wheel for this long."

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, added her party’s voice to recall Parliament in the wake of the Tata steel crisis. She said: “This week’s crisis in Port Talbot and elsewhere has not come out of the blue – Britain’s steel industry has been in trouble for a long time now. Yet the government appears to have been asleep on the job.”

Ms Lucas added: “The Prime Minister’s reluctance to contemplate public ownership shows yet again a government putting ideology above practical support. Time is now of the essence.

“Opposition parties need to collectively step up to the plate vacated by Tory ministers, and come together to formulate a plan not only for protecting the 40,000 jobs now at risk, but ensuring a long-term, low-carbon future for Britain’s steel industry. That’s why I’m adding my voice to the increasingly loud and urgent calls for Parliament to be recalled.”

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