The Yorkshire Post has seen a letter that Labour has sent to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss saying their proposed removal “could be the final straw that forces some factories and steel mills to close down for good”.
It comes after the Government’s Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate recommended that a number of measures to protect the UK steel industry from imports be cut from July. Under current restrictions that were put in place when the UK was a member of the European Union, 19 types of imported steel were subject to tariffs and quotas to safeguard UK suppliers.
Scrapping such oversights seems an insulting negation of promises about putting British business interests first as the country departed from the EU.
And this will surely deepen the unease thousands of workers at sites including Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Scunthorpe felt when the founder of Liberty Steel, Sanjeev Gupta, revealed last month that the company owes “many billions” to collapsed financial backer Greensill Capital.
Furthermore, this newspaper recently published a special report about the potential of “green steel” to help secure jobs and the IPPR North think-tank’s assertion that the once emissions-heavy industry could achieve zero carbon status by 2035.
This point suggests that Yorkshire may be on the cusp of a seismic positive change in steel. If the Government is seen pulling the rug out from under this, it cannot claim to be serious about “levelling-up”, British business - or its own recent Parliamentary gains across the North of England.