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KEMI BADENOCH: Whatever Michael Sheen says, the truth is we’re pouring millions in to SAVE steel jobs in Britain


Promoting his new drama The Way, Michael Sheen has said that ‘the people of Port Talbot have been let down’ regarding redundancies at its steel plant.

But he is wrong. Port Talbot is iconic to British industry and that’s why the Government is investing so much to ensure we keep its steelworks for the next century at a time when the market says we should abandon it.

China has flooded the global market with subsidised steel for decades and private companies across the world are struggling to make any profit from steel.

The two largest steelworks in the UK, run by British Steel in Scunthorpe and Tata in Port Talbot, are losing between £1-1.5million a day.

Some have suggested we let the companies go. But doing that would leave the Government with a bill running into billions to close down and clean up the sites.

So this Government has decided to bring in one of the biggest industrial support packages in our history to secure a future for Port Talbot and create a regeneration plan.

Michael Sheen (pictured) in his new show The Way

Michael Sheen (pictured) in his new show The Way 

Closing the old furnaces is ultimately a commercial decision for Tata, but the Government is playing our part by investing half a billion pounds in new, modern electric arc furnaces.

These furnaces use materials sourced here in the UK, so we don’t have to go elsewhere for iron ore and coking coal, which is what we have been doing for decades.

Contrary to some claims, electric arc furnaces actually increase Britain’s domestic resilience and make us less reliant on the likes of China.

The Labour Party, despite running the Welsh government, have not lifted a finger to help in this process. They have been commenting about jobs lost during the transition, ignoring the tens of thousands of jobs saved at the steelworks and in the supply chain.

The Way tells the story of the Driscoll family as they become involved in civil unrest in Port Talbot sparked by foreign investors taking over the steelworks leading to horrific work conditions for locals who rely on the industry for jobs

The Way tells the story of the Driscoll family as they become involved in civil unrest in Port Talbot sparked by foreign investors taking over the steelworks leading to horrific work conditions for locals who rely on the industry for jobs

They also never mention that their outlandish and uncosted promise to decarbonise the grid by 2030 would mean even more steel jobs lost, or tens of billions extra spent – which would mean higher taxes.

Electric furnaces require fewer workers than the current blast furnaces, which inevitably means some in Port Talbot will lose their jobs.

However, the regeneration means many new jobs will be created in the future. We are delivering on the promise of jobs with a Transition Board, backed by £80million of funding from this Government.

This Board will ensure those employees made redundant are properly supported throughout this process; that includes equipping people who want to take new jobs outside the steel industry with the training and skills they need. No one will be left behind.

The site’s transformation will help pull in large investment from modern industries such as offshore wind, bolstered by the Celtic Freeport green investment corridor, which aims to create thousands of new jobs across the whole of South Wales.

I haven’t seen Michael Sheen’s drama yet, but I know how worried many in Britain are about deindustrialisation and losing so much of our heritage and capability.

When the parent company was losing £1.5million a day and ready to abandon the plant, the alternative to the Government’s swift action would have been waving goodbye to Tata Steel in Britain.

I was never prepared to let that happen and I have promised that we will do all we can. We acted fast to save jobs and we are supporting all those affected.

There is no change without challenge, but I’m proud of the plan we have put in place in partnership with Tata.

It means Port Talbot will be ready for whatever the future holds. And it will help the steelworks finally move from loss to profit.



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