US steel tariffs - EU must make amends for Labour

In the European Parliament's debate on US steel tariffs this morning, Conservative industry spokesman Sir Robert Atkins MEP, former UK Minister for Steel (1987-1989), will say the British steel industry has to look to the European Commission to safeguard its interests because the Labour government is so embroiled in cronyism it is incapable of doing so.

Sir Robert will say: "It is truly scandalous that Romania is one of the countries exempted from the US tariffs in the light of the activities of Lakshmi Mittal in Britain, the US and Romania. It is hard to escape the conclusion that has pulled off a 'real steal', effectively buying himself an exemption from the US tariffs. His £125,000 donation to the Labour Party removes all credibility from any Labour claims to be capable of looking after the interests of British and European steel workers."

"We must therefore look to the European Commission to do this. We will support Commissioner Lamy in his determined attempts to challenge the tariffs through the WTO and to retaliate - but carefully - against the US measures. And in parallel we must continue to seek a solution through the OECD talks."

"When I was Minister for Steel in the UK, the industry was over-manned and uncompetitive. The process of privatisation was undeniably a traumatic one, with the loss of plants and the loss of jobs. But it had to be endured to ensure any future at all for the UK steel industry. So we absolutely cannot allow the British steel industry to got through another trauma as a result of measures - apparently in contravention of WTO rules - imposed by a country that has simply not grasped the nettle of restructuring and rationalisation."

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