Starmer: Labour would ‘seize opportunity’ to revive British steel industry

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Labour would seize the opportunities for British steel, Sir Keir Starmer said, as he vowed to protect the embattled industry.

The Labour leader visited the British Steel site in Scunthorpe on Thursday, as he accused the Conservatives of leaving the industry and its workers in a “cycle of crisis and bailout”.

He promised that his party would invest in steel as part of its broader green plans following years of concern about the future of the industry and the fate of hundreds of workers.

Labour’s own proposals for the sector include steel being among the recipients of investment support from a proposed national wealth fund, which will back business investment in new technology such as hydrogen and electric arc furnaces.

UK steel industry
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Ben Birchall/PA)

Labour argues that plans to increase the generation of offshore wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen will generate demand for millions of tonnes of UK steel.

Speaking to broadcasters in Scunthorpe, he said: “There’s going to be a huge demand for steel in the future, and I want that to be British steel.

“Just at the moment, British steel is struggling, and we need to move to a new model, to green steel, and here it’s been made absolutely clear to me that customers of the future want that green steel.

“That is not just a challenge but a fantastic opportunity that a Labour government would seize.”

British Steel in April said it would offer alternative jobs to about 250 workers affected by the closure of its Scunthorpe coke ovens, which it said would go as part of its drive to overcome global economic challenges and build a greener future.

Roy Rickhuss, general Secretary of the Community union, which represents steelworkers, welcomed Sir Keir’s visit.

“Labour’s plans for an active industrial strategy and a £3 billion green steel, investment fund can be the game-changers our industry so desperately needs,” he said.

“Britain needs a strong and sustainable steel industry and delivering that is going to require a comprehensive partnership between government, employers and trade unions.

“We welcome Keir’s visit and we look forward to discussing Labour’s plans in Scunthorpe today.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Steel plays a vital role in the UK economy, supporting local jobs and economic growth. We want to secure a decarbonised, sustainable and competitive future for the UK steel sector, and we are working closely with industry to achieve this.

“We have made an offer of support to British Steel, and continue to engage actively with the company to ensure any investment would be successful and make effective use of taxpayers’ money.”

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