Belfast Telegraph

Minister 'went on a holiday' amid Tata steel jobs crisis

By Staff Reporters

Business Secretary Sajid Javid is facing calls to quit after it emerged he took his daughter on a trip to Australia while the UK's steel industry was in meltdown.

The Cabinet minister cut short his visit to Sydney to return to the UK following the shock decision by Indian conglomerate Tata to sell its British assets, including the giant steelworks at Port Talbot in south Wales.

But the plant's local MP and unions claimed Mr Javid appeared to have gone on the trip for not "entirely work-related" reasons, with his teenage daughter accompanying him.

In December, the international steel giant announced it was preparing to sell its Lisburn premises, which employs 72 people, to Greybull Capital.

The company, which has maintained its Ireland services centre in Lisburn since 2007, said the move to sign a letter of intent over the sale of its long products division would lead to exclusive negotiations with the family-owned investment firm.

Mr Javid had yet to arrive back in the UK when Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency meeting of ministers in Downing Street to discuss Tata's decision, which could put thousands of jobs at risk.

A spokesman for the Business Secretary said: "We can confirm that Mr Javid's daughter accompanied him on his visit to Australia. There was no cost to the taxpayer."

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose constituency includes the Port Talbot plant, said Mr Javid should consider quitting, claiming the latest revelation was a further indication of the Government's lack of interest in the steel industry. He has travelled to Mumbai in an attempt to lobby Tata to keep the loss-making steelworks open.

Mr Kinnock said: "We have known for months that March 29 was going to be D-Day for the British steel industry, with up to 40,000 jobs on the line.

"I think that, given the magnitude of what was happening and the fact it appears that he was not even in Australia for entirely work-related reasons, he should consider his position."

Mr Cameron said the Government was "doing everything it can" but added that nationalisation was not the answer. The situation in Port Talbot was of "deep concern" and there were "no guarantees of success", the Prime Minister added.

Belfast Telegraph