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  1. ITV Report

The political fallout from the British Steel situation

Figures from across the political spectrum have waded into the row over British Steel's future Credit: PA Images

The news that British Steel is on the brink of collapse has prompted strong reactions from all sides of the political spectrum.

Shortly after the news broke on Wednesday morning political figures from both the government and the Opposition waded into the ensuing row.

Redcar MP Anna Turley says the government must act Credit: PA Images

Redcar MP Anna Turley said the situation had troubling hallmarks of the SSI crisis three and a half years ago.

She said: "This is devastating news for hundreds of workers on Teesside and thousands more in the supply chain and across the whole business.

So many people gave their heart and soul into getting British Steel up and running and it was such a positive story after a tough time for steel on Teesside."

"Three and a half years after the loss of SSI, it is a disgrace that we are here again fighting for steel jobs.

The lessons of that terrible closure must be learned. We cannot allow thousands of skilled jobs and strategic industrial assets to be lost again."

This morning I have spoken to the Secretary of State and have urged him to ensure his government steps up and protects these jobs. We must also come together with a new taskforce on Teesside to support the workforce through this uncertain time, in the same way the SSI Taskforce brought all local partners together in 2015.

“The cost of government inaction will be devastating. Letting another British steelmaker to go to the wall is unthinkable.

– Anna Turley MP, Labour (Redcar)

Meanwhile the Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen was critical both of his own government and Greybull Capital, the firm that owns British Steel.

He said it was another episode of people in Teesside being let down.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has criticised his own government in the row Credit: PA Images

Yet again the people of Teesside have been shafted by heartless private investors, and a government completely unwilling to pull their finger out to help local workers.

This issue is much bigger than party politics and so I have written to every MP and Council Leader in our region to convene an urgent meeting this Friday.

As a region, our one and only priority will be to ensure Teesside jobs are protected and the company's profitable plants at Lackenby and Skinningrove remain open."

– Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

The government has defended itself over its decision not to provide more money to help save British Steel.

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday Prime Minister Theresa May said it would be unlawful for the government to provide financial assistance under the circumstances.

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The Business Secretary, Greg Clarke, said that the government's hands were essentially tied when it came to providing a loan. He also acknowledged the distress it would cause workers and local communities.

He said: "The government can only act within the law, which requires any financial support to a steel company to be on a commercial basis.

"I have been advised that it would be unlawful to provide a guarantee or loan on the terms of any proposals that the company or any other party has made."

The Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government is bound by law and cannot offer a loan Credit: PA Images

This will be a deeply worrying time for the thousands of dedicated British Steel workers, those in the supply chain and local communities.

"In the days and weeks ahead, I will be working with the Official Receiver and a British Steel support group of management, trade unions, companies in the supply chain and local communities, to pursue remorselessly every possible step to secure the future of the valuable operations in sites at Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside.

– Business Secretary Greg Clark
Simon Clarke has said the news is a major blow for Teesside Credit: ITV News

The Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Simon Clarke, issued a statement of his own and said the news was a "hammer blow" for the area.

He said: "The announcement that British Steel has placed itself into insolvency is an absolute hammer-blow for steel workers and their families. My number one priority is to ensure a sustainable future for the operations at Skinningrove and Lackenby.

Greybull have totally failed the people of East Cleveland and my anger with them knows no bounds. I hope their directors are held to account for taking yet another company to the brink.

My position is clear: the Government must do whatever is required to prevent closure. That could well mean temporary nationalisation.

This would not solve the problem that state aid rules mean there are legal barriers to injecting money on a non-commercial basis.

However, I believe we should save the company first and argue the case later, once the company has been saved.

– Simon Clarke MP, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Cons)

On Tuesday British Steel moved to quell speculation that employees would not be paid their May salaries. The firm, owned by Greybull Capital, said it would "work will all parties" to try and reach a solution.

British Steel's future - and that of its workers and their families - looks increasingly uncertain. The political row, however, looks set to go on.