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Election 2024: Starmer won’t put figure on keeping Port Talbot steelworks open

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to say how much money he would be willing to spend to prevent Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant closing.
Sir Keir Starmer has refused to say how much money he would be willing to spend to prevent Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant closing.

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to say how much money he would be willing to spend to prevent Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant closing.

The Labour leader said he will do whatever he can to preserve jobs at the south Wales steelworks, but stopped short of putting a figure on what he would spend to keep the site open.

“The most important thing is to work with Tata Steel on the plan that they’re putting in place, that’s what I want to do,” Sir Keir told reporters.

“That is vitally important and, as you would expect, even in opposition we have been having discussions to try and make sure that what at one stage looked might happen in the next few days doesn’t happen.”

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He added: “I’m pleased that for the time being at least, the situation is better at Tata Steel, but if we’re elected into government I will double down to make sure we can do whatever we can to preserve jobs and steel-making here in Wales, because it’s very, very important.”

His comments came after a planned strike at the Port Talbot plant was suspended after Unite the union said plant owners Tata had proposed new investment – and not just redundancies at the site.

Workers are embroiled in a dispute with the company over plans to close the two blast furnaces and switch to a greener way of steel production, which needs fewer workers.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham called it a “significant development in the battle to protect jobs and the long-term future of steel making in South Wales”.

Labour committed in its manifesto to invest £500m into green hydrogen and £2.5bn into transitioning steel over a decade, if the party is elected into power.