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Government should be lender of last resort for Tata steel, say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams have said the Government must be the ‘investor of last resort’ to the Tata Steelworks in Port Talbot.

The Liberal Democrat leader said that the Westminster Government should be prepared to step in and act as a temporary buyer for the plant if required, and also offer financial support to ensure key staff are retained during any sales process.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

“The Conservative Government in Westminster has let down Port Talbot, not least because of Sajid Javid’s disgraceful veto of measures at an EU level to stop the dumping of cheap Chinese steel that is destroying the UK steel industry. Their actions have helped escalate this crisis while the Labour Government in Cardiff bay has failed to stand up for steelworkers in their own backyard. It’s now time that both Governments started acting in the best interests of workers at the plant and our steel industry.

“The Port Talbot plant is the crucible of the British steel industry. It is a proud beacon of our industrial heritage and part of the reason we are a world leader in manufacturing. Generations of families have worked at the South Wales steelworks which still employs thousands of people and provides work for thousands more in supply industries.

“That is why the Government should be prepared to step in as an investor of last resort, to bridge any gap between Tata’s ownership of the plant and a future buyer. Our steel industry is of strategic interest to Wales and the whole of the UK and if temporary nationalisation is needed to protect it then the Government should be prepared to act."

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

“Wales’ steel industry is of national strategic importance and something we have to protect for the long term. We need a UK Government that is brave enough to make the big decisions. So far, it has been unwilling to do so.

“Many of our communities strongly rely on this industry. We must stand up for them, learn lessons from the past, and take strong action now.

“People are fed up of hearing just warm words from both Governments over the future of our steel industry. What steel workers and their families need is action. The Liberal Democrats believe the UK Government must be prepared to temporarily renationalise at least part of the plant in order to make sure that it can be passed as a going concern to a new investor and prevent a gap in operation.”