We need a government that doesn’t treat our industry and communities as an afterthought in Brexit talks

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Aberavon MP calls out government indifference to the British steel industry: we need a government that doesn’t treat our industry and communities as an afterthought in Brexit talks.

Commenting on reports that, according to a government document, the British steel industry is to be considered a “low priority industry” for Brexit talks, Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament to Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot steelworks said:

“Once again we see a government who approach the British steel industry with a toxic combination of incompetence and indifference.

“Incompetence, as they fail to appreciated the foundational importance of steel to the automotive and aerospace industries. The recently published cross party Steel 2020 industrial strategy report took evidence from experts across the steel industry and supply chain, and a key finding was that the presence of a domestic steel industry is a key determinant of where automotive and aerospace production will be located1. In other words, without a domestic steel industry, there will be no UK based automotive or aerospace industries.

“The government seem totally unaware of the fundamental importance of the steel industry not only to other manufacturing sectors, but to the fate of communities up and down the country. The loss of the Port Talbot steel works alone would cost 40,000 jobs across the economy, local community and supply chains, and could cost the Exchequer £4.6bn2. It is this indifference to the fate of our communities and industry that is the most galling, and I think my constituents and steel communities up and down the country can be forgiven for wondering if the government would have a different attitude were the steel industry was based in the South East.

“The British steel industry and its workforce have been through a testing 12 months, but have shown incredible resilience and commitment to come through and turn things around. The industry has engaged with government and done all that could be expected of it to demonstrate its commitment to our country and produce a long term plan. The workforce have battled through almost two years of uncertainty to return the industry to profit, at not inconsiderable costs to themselves. It is about time that the government stepped up and did their bit to show that loyalty, handwork, suffering and pain will be matched by a government that doesn’t treat our industry and communities as an afterthought in Brexit negociations.

“Theresa May said her government would negotiate a Brexit that delivers for the whole country, but she seems to be falling at the first hurdle. The fundamental question facing her now is this: will Brexit be about picking winners, and favouring those who have the most effective lobbying operations, or will it be about the radical redistribution of wealth and opportunity across our economy and communities that she spoke about on the steps of 10 Downing Street? Let us hope that the Prime Minister will come to the right answer to that question, and fast.”