The Daily Telegraph

New hope for 4,000 British Steel staff following Rees-mogg talks

- By Oliver Gill

THOUSANDS of British Steel workers have been granted a stay of execution by the company’s Chinese owner after Jacob Rees-mogg agreed to bailout talks.

Jingye, which bought British Steel out of insolvency in 2020, has lobbied the Government for several months amid fears its Scunthorpe steelworks is unviable unless ministers step in.

The Business Secretary has now expressed his willingnes­s to put talks on a formal footing, according to Sky News. As part of the agreement, Jingye has agreed not to cut British Steel’s 4,000 jobs while talks progress.

Demands from Jingye for aid from taxpayers will raise eyebrows given this comparativ­ely unknown outfit was founded more than 30 years ago and built from scratch by Li Ganpo, a former Chinese Communist Party official.

Jingye paid £70m for British Steel and promised to invest £1.2bn to revive the Scunthorpe plant. British Steel was placed into Government-run insolvency in May 2019 before it was bought in March 2020. Its £1m-a-week losses were bankrolled by the taxpayer.

The Government is facing multiple calls for taxpayer support from steelmaker­s which are struggling to meet spiralling costs. The Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, Britain’s biggest works, has threatened to shut down if ministers refuse demands to provide £1.5bn in subsidies to fund carbon emission cuts.

A shake-up of legacy rules from Brussels is expected to be a central plank of any aid on offer to the industry and Mr Rees-mogg railed against “idiotic’ green levies on UK steel at a fringe event during the Tory party conference in Birmingham earlier this month.

He said it was “absolute madness” that the UK was retaining levies implemente­d under Brussels, while the rules are not implementi­ng fairly by EU members such as Germany.

He said: “Our steel industry now spends £30 [per megawatt hour] more for electricit­y than its competitor­s. This is absolute madness ... I want to see proper, competitiv­e free markets and the good quality of British steel will shine through.”

 ?? ?? Tata has threatened to shut Britain’s biggest steelworks at Port Talbot
Tata has threatened to shut Britain’s biggest steelworks at Port Talbot

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