Protecting our steel industry is vital for our national interest and for building a more equal society. I wasn’t called to speak in yesterday’s debate to safeguard our steel industry but here is the speech I was going to give.
“Steel is a critical industry for our economy and national security.
If the Government is serious about defending our national interests and taking back control of the management of all our economy now that we’ve left the European Union,
it should not need to be pushed into taking the urgent action needed to maintain safeguards on domestic steel and to begin rebuilding a substantial, strong industrial base.
As we know, the importance of the foundation industries – such as steel – underpin the economies of many highly industrialised countries, so contrary to the ideologue of some free marketeers, steel is far from a sunset industry.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as others have said, the success of steel and other manufacturing industry is intrinsically tied in many cases to the prosperity, development, and opportunities at the heart of our communities.
The UK steel industry employs 33,700 people directly in high-wage, high-skilled jobs and supports a further 42,000 in supply chains.
As well as the vital jobs and growth it brings to our economy, the steel industry is at the heart of everything we build as a country. Schools, railways, or hospitals all need millions of tonnes of high-quality steel.
Leaving the European Union has highlighted the importance of our sovereign capability to produce steel, while the Covid pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of relying on importing steel. Steel is a key part of a successful industrial strategy,
but rather than backing Britain’s steel industry, the Conservative Party has accepted the dogma of the globalised, unconstrained free market, which has resulted in a sustained and severe decline of our steel industry.
As we have seen, when manufacturing suffers, inequality grows.
The neglect of the industry will transition into contempt if the Government chooses to accept the Trade Remedies Authority’s recommendation to drop 9 of the 19 existing safeguards on steel products.
The reason that we, the European Union, the United States, and all but two of the world’s ten largest steel producers currently have safeguard tariffs in place is very simple. We are in the middle of a prolonged global glut of supply.
And abolishing these safeguards would continue the failure to take back control and revive Britain’s steel – instead, risking flooding the UK’s market with cheap imports.
As we have seen across the economy, the free market puts profit before people
The state has a role in promoting and reviving the steel industry and the UK’s domestic manufacturing base. This must be one part of a wider industrial strategy with the key aim of creating a socially just future for all, with full employment underpinned by well-paid jobs at its heart.
So, Mr. Speaker, I hope the Government accepts they got it wrong on the TRA and listens to this side of the House and trade unions by outlining a powerful state-driven industrial strategy to deliver prosperity across the country.”