UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 2 said that he is ‘very hopeful’ a solution will be found to save Liberty Steel plants in the country as the company is battling to secure capital after the collapse of its biggest lender Greensill Capital. As per local media reports, while speaking during a visit to Middlesbrough, Johnson said that UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was in ‘daily contact’ with the owners of the firm. British PM also said that the government will utilise its ‘post-Brexit’ freedom to find a suitable solution to buy British steel.
Boris Johnson said, “I think British steel is a very important national asset. I think the fact that we make steel in this country is of strategic long-term importance. We have learned during the pandemic that it is not a good idea to be excessively reliant in times of trouble on imports of critical things.”
“We need a strong steel industry. I am very hopeful that we will get a solution. It would be crazy if we were not to use this post-Brexit moment not to use the flexibility we have to buy British steel. So that’s want we want to do,” he added.
Liberty Steel is UK’s third-largest steelmaker and it was on the edge of collapse just weeks ago when the firm’s main financier Greensill Capital went bust. Liberty Steel owner Sanjeev Gupta also said that he had huge interest from financiers who are now willing to refinance billions in debt owed to failed lender Greensill Capital. He even warned the creditors against pulling the plug and scrapping thousands of jobs.
‘All options on table to save Liberty Steel’
While speaking on BBC Radio 4’s programme on Tuesday, UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that all options remain on the table to protect Liberty Steel that holds 3,000 UK workers’ jobs. He said, “We are custodians of taxpayers’ money, and there were concerns over the very opaque structure of the GFG Group and we feel that if we gave the money, there is no guarantee that that money would stay in the UK and protect British jobs. It’s a multinational enterprise.”
Without ruling out the possibility of the government taking Liberty Steel into public ownership, the British Business Secretary said, “All options are on the table. We think the steel industry has a future in the UK. Only two weeks ago my department published an industrial decarbonisation strategy. We want to see clean steel … of the kind Liberty Steel makes.”