Plaid Cymru urges Starmer to prove commitment to Welsh steel industry from day one of power

Plaid Cymru MS Luke Fletcher has urged newly appointed Prime Minister Keir Starmer to follow up on a key election pledge by providing necessary detail around Labour’s promise of £3 billion to the steel industry.

Luke Fletcher MS has said that the newly appointed Prime Minister must follow up on a key election pledge for the steel industry.

In February, Labour committed to a £3bn fund for the steel industry spent over five years instead of the the decade originally planned.

The promise came despite Labour leader Keir Starmer ditching his party’s flagship £28bn green investment pledge.

As Labour celebrated a landslide victory on Friday morning (July 5), Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Energy and the Economy demanded immediate action to address the looming crisis at Port Talbot’s steelworks.

It follows months of uncertainty about the future of Tata Steel’s blast furnace operations in Port Talbot.

Tata Steel has said that it could accelerate the closure of blast furnaces 4 and 5 in response to strike action by Unite the Union. Original plans stated that blast furnace 5 would close in early July 2024, with blast furnace 4 closing in September 2024.

These plans have been suspended in light of fresh negotiations between Tata and the union.

During a meeting of the Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee on 26 June, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, disclosed that the Welsh Government had last met with Tata on 10 June to urge the company not to make “irreversible decisions until after the election”.

However, questions were raised by Luke Fletcher MS – who has called for the nationalisation of the site in Port Talbot – around detail for Labour’s £3 billion pledge for steel, upon which hopes rest for a fresh set of negotiations between government and Tata Steel, post-general election.

In Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee on 26 June, Luke Fletcher asked: “We know there's a £3 billion plan put forward by the Labour Party, but we haven't seen any detail on that. So, is there any detail to give?”

In response, Jeremy Miles MS said: “The specific answer to your question is: no, I don't think it's about that. And I think a commitment of £3 billion is a very significant commitment. How that is deployed is a matter for a Government that's been elected to discuss and engage with the steel sector itself, which is why our position as a Government has been so clear that decisions shouldn't be taken until that new Government is in place and able to have those discussions in its capacity as a Government with those businesses.”

In a statement today, Luke Fletcher MS said: “Before Keir Starmer has even had a chance to spend his first night in Number 10, he is confronted with the critical challenge of securing primary steelmaking in Wales and safeguarding its future.

“The new Prime Minister must step up and show that he is serious about Welsh steelmaking from day one.

“Since the announcement of £3 billion for steel, very little else besides this figure has been revealed – we have no idea how much of this will be dedicated to Port Talbot, we have no idea how Keir Starmer intends to prevent the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs in the sector, and we have no idea as to how this new  government intends to stop the immediate closure of the blast furnaces.

“This government must also show that it will consider all options on the table when it comes to keeping the blast furnaces operational, including nationalisation – this must surely now be on the government’s agenda.

“We need evidence that this government hasn’t given up on Welsh steel and the communities that have given so much to the industry, and it must provide this with urgent and decisive action.”


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  • Billy Jones
    published this page in News 2024-07-05 13:24:52 +0100

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