Live updates

Shadow Chancellor to visit threatened SSI steel plant

The Shadow Chancellor will visit the SSI steel plant, which is set to close with the loss of up to 1,700 jobs.

John McDonnell told ITV News Tyne Tees' Political Correspondent Paul Brand, he would be making a trip up to Redcar "on Monday if not before".

He has said he plans to put "maximum pressure" on the Government to do more to help the stricken plant:

The factory is being shut down after Thai owner SSI said it had no other choice because of plummeting steel prices.

Noise protest held against dawn raids

Credit: Laura Lean/PA Wire

People in Newcastle have held a 'noise protest' against dawn raids carried out by Home Office Immigration Enforcement Teams in the Tyne and Wear area.

Residents with pots, pans, whistles and drums descended on the new base of the regional Home Office Enforcement Team, in Newcastle city centre on Thursday morning. They say this is the base for "disruptive" raids which target the homes of asylum applicants.

The Home Office issued this statement in response to the protests:

"The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who genuinely need it, but where someone is found not to need our protection we expect them to leave the country voluntarily. This is important in ensuring that our help is directed to those who really need it.

Assistance can be provided to people found not to have the right to remain in the UK in returning to their home country. If they refuse to engage with this process we will enforce their removal."


Sunderland man in court over explosive charges

A raid was carried out on a house in West Belfast on Friday

A man from Sunderland has appeared in court in Northern Ireland accused of possessing guns and explosives. Kevin Nolan, 45, was arrested on Wearside at the weekend.

Explosives, guns and bullets were seized during a raid of a house in West Belfast last Friday.

Nolan faces charges of possessing Semtex and two detonators in suspicious circumstances, and with intent to endanger life.

The 45-year-old, who has been linked to an address at Whitchurch Close in Sunderland, is also accused of having firearms and a quantity of ammunition. He was remanded in custody by Belfast Magistrates.

A 29-year-old man arrested in Belfast on Sunday as part of the same investigation has been released unconditionally. A 21-year-old woman detained at the same time remains in custody.

Owners of SSI say they may sell Redcar plant

Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The Thai owners of the SSI steelworks in Redcar have said that they may sell the plant in a recent press conference in Bangkok.

The blast furnaces at the site were shut down on Friday following revelations last week that the plant was in serious financial difficulties.

The Redcar steelworks employs 2,000 people whose futures are uncertain. It also uses an additional 1,000 contract workers who fear they may be out of work by next week.

Inaction over SSI could cost taxpayer hundreds of millions says union

A shutdown of SSI's Redcar steelworks was announced on Friday Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The Community trade union, which represents the majority of employees and contractors at the beleaguered SSI plant on Teesside says that if the government doesn't step in to support the company, it could cost the taxpayer 'hundreds of millions'. On Friday, SSI announced a 'pause' in iron and steelmaking at its Redcar plant as well as the mothballing of one of its coke ovens.

What SSI needs is some short-term and immediate assistance from government. The most important thing to do is to ensure that these industrial assets are protected and preserved until steel making can resume. If that means the government has to step in and assist then so be it. Last week the Prime Minister said his government would do 'all we can' to help the UK steel industry. Now is the time to demonstrate the political will behind those words. Ministers should be bold in the interests of the steel industry, the SSI workers and the whole Teesside community.

The government has argued that EU state aid rules are preventing it from intervening. I wiil be writing to the European Commission today to seek clarification about the UK's application of state aid rules.

The costs of inaction could be far greater for the government. Should SSI fail then it's taxpayers who could pick up the costs of redundancies and cleaning up the site. Clean up costs could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. It's in the interests of all parties to find a solution to the current difficulties.

– Roy Rickhuss, Community General Secretarty


North East MPs given front bench roles in Corbyn’s new opposition

Credit: PA

Jeremy Corbyn has finalised the details of his front bench team almost a week after being elected Labour leader.

North East MPs dominate Jeremy Corbyn’s new look opposition with six MPs from the region taking on key roles.

  • Chi Onwurah MP, Newcastle Central, joins the Business,Innovation & Skills and Culture, Media & Sport teams
  • Anna Turley MP, Redcar, joins the Cabinet Office team
  • Ian Lavery MP, Wansbeck, joins the Cabinet Office team
  • Sharon Hodgson MP, Washington and Sunderland West, joins the Education team
  • Alan Campbell MP, Tynemouth, joins the Whips team as Deputy Chief Whip
  • Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, City of Durham, joins the Housing team

You can see the full list here.

Furious MP Tom Blenkinsop struggles to hide his anger

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop struggled to disguise his frustration at comments made by Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton MP.

The Conservative MP for Stockton South accused Mr Blenkinsop and others of 'showboating' during a debate about the state of the UK steel industry.

SSI in Redcar has warned significant financial losses can't be sustained. More than two thousand people work there.

North East MPs debate steel industry

Steelworkers from Teesside are in Westminster today to hear a debate in Parliament on the state of the industry.

It follows concerns about the future of the SSI plant in Redcar. The town's MP Anna Turley has told Parliament that the UK steel industry is at breaking point and facing a crisis. SSI has warned significant financial losses can't be sustained. More than two thousand people work there.

Northern Powerhouse minister and Teesside MP, James Wharton did not attend the debate.

He told our political correspondent Paul Brand that he was on his way to Teesside, “actually doing things rather than showboating”.

Anna Turley went onto say that Redcar has "already gone through the devastation of losing a plant" and that "we can not go through with this again."

Meanwhile Anna Soubry, MP for Bruxtoe and Minister for Small Business said that we "can't force up the price of steel."

Load more updates