Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin has urged a change in government not to disrupt the British Steel sales process as he welcomed assurances that multiple bidders remained in the race to buy the company.
Either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will become the third Conservative Prime Minister the Labour MP has served in the House of Commons with when the result of the Conservative leadership election is announced tomorrow.
British Steel, headquartered in Scunthorpe, has found itself in compulsory liquidation for the past two months and is in the hands of the Official Receiver as the Government leads efforts to find a buyer.
Mr Dakin, who is chairman of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Steel, spoke after the Official Receiver told the company’s 4,000 employees how a number of companies had come forward following a call to reconfirm interest by Monday last week.
The Scunthorpe MP said: “We can be cautiously optimistic . There is still a long way to go, steelworkers, families and people who depend on the steel industry – locally and elsewhere – will continue to be anxious until we have got things confirmed and we have a new chapter started. This is going to be difficult.
“That said, all the signs are positive – with the Official Receiver confirming a number of serious expressions of interest which have been reconfirmed. This means people are very interested in taking this business forward, and this is very positive.”
Mr Dakin was one of four MPs to sign a letter sent to both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt last week, urging whichever moves into 10 Downing Street to do all they can to help find a buyer for British Steel.
Looking towards Westminster, he again emphasised the importance that the work led by Business Secretary Greg Clark under Prime Minister Theresa May is continued.
“The reality is there is quite a long way still to go in this process,” Mr Dakin said.
“We have a change of government this week, a brand new cabinet, and Prime Minister May – whatever people think – has respectfully risen to the current challenge and Secretary of State Greg Clark took a personal and dynamic interest in ensuring a sustainable future for this business.
“We need to make sure the new Prime Minister is equally committed. This is an important point in the process. We need to make sure, and to be fair to both, they have confirmed they would remain committed to seeing this through.
“Saying and doing it are different things, however. A job all of us have, local stakeholders, national stakeholders MPs, is we all need to make sure the new government delivers and completes the work of the May administration.”
Of the way the chair of the British Steel Support Group has gone about the task, Mr Dakin said: “I think Greg Clark has shown himself to be a real champion for this industry and it would be really good news for him to stay in post, but I would be very surprised if that is the case.
“We have to hope that the baton is passed as smoothly as possible to someone who can champion the steel industry as well as Greg has.”
The search for a buyer for British Steel
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