Later today, Labour will try to stop the Tories selling out the British steel industry by forcing a decision to retain vital protections, with a motion to Parliament empowering Keir Starmer to put forward emergency legislation to extend the UK’s current safeguards against cheap steel imports. I will be voting in favour of this proposal.
Before 30 June, the Tory International Trade Secretary will decide whether to push ahead with plans to remove nine of the current 19 safeguards. The EU has extended its own steel safeguards until at least June 2024, and the US is also expected to do so.
The risks for the UK’s steel industry are great if the Tories press on. There is a surplus of steel in China and the excess of steel on the international market has pushed prices down. If safeguards are removed, the UK’s steel industry faces being dwarfed by competitors. Just a 2% increase in global overproduction could totally wipe out demand for British steel.
Slashing safeguards and opening the floodgates to cheap steel imports would be devastating for steel plants across the country.