The news that the British steel industry is on the brink, with the immediate potential loss of 40,000 jobs from the TATA group, is a hammer blow for the communities involved and for those of us who believe that the UK can and must retain a significant manufacturing sector. A petition has been launched to recall Parliament and urging the Government to act. I have signed the petition and am ready to go.
For many of you, like me, this will be grimly familiar with the closure of industries like mining and shipbuilding in previous decades. But steel is far from being a sunset industry - steel is essential to a modern economy and we would be the first major nation to lose our sovereign steel production. As a major military power this would be especially significant.
The overwhelming problem facing Western steel production is the huge amount of cheap Chinese steel which has come onto the world market very recently. I am no protectionist, but if countries are unfairly dumping products at under the cost of production then surely we have to act to ensure a level-playing field? Frustratingly, being a part of the EU gives us the capability to stand up to the size of China, but it has been the UK Government which has prevented stronger action being taken in the EU. There are advantages to this - cheap steel brings down costs elsewhere in our economy, but for me this is an extremely short-sighted view. It also ignores the real problems parts of the UK have experienced when whole industries have gone under.
I do believe this requires a much greater moment of national consideration, and action, than what we've seen so far. So as much as I'm enjoying working at home this week, please consider signing this petition to recall Parliament: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/126128