Wales politics

Jones: EU uncertainty 'bad for Port Talbot steelworks'

Port Talbot steel works
Image caption Carwyn Jones says uncertainty about the UK's role in Europe is 'not helpful' to Port Talbot's steelworks

Uncertainty over Britain's future in the European Union could harm the prospects of Port Talbot steelworks, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Steel giant Tata announced last November it was planning to shed almost 600 jobs in south Wales.

Mr Jones faced questions from AMs about help for those affected.

He said it was unclear whether the majority of the people losing jobs would take voluntary redundancy.

He praised Tata for its investment in Port Talbot, including in a £185m new blast furnace.

However, Mr Jones said Prime Minister David Cameron's offer of an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU had not helped.

"Without the new blast furnace, the future for the steelworks at Port Talbot would have been very bleak," he said.

"But anything that suggests Britain and Wales will not be part of the EU is not helpful."

The Indian-owned company - which is to spend £800m at its Welsh plants over the next five years - employs about 8,000 in Wales.

In the Senedd on Tuesday, the first minister said the Welsh government had strong links with Tata bosses in India, whom he visited during a trade mission to the country last year.

But Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said Mr Jones should do more to boost Welsh exports.

He made the call after Mr Jones revealed he had not taken any business leaders on his two most recent overseas visits to Turkey and Ireland.

Mr Davies said: "Future trade missions must maximise their potential and showcase the entrepreneurship and talent we have in Wales.

"The first minister must provide reassurances his trade missions will deliver real investment for Wales and aren't just a vanity project to promote his own ego."

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