Wales politics

PM Theresa May not meeting Tata 'alarming'

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May told reporters she would not be able to meet Tata as planned

Theresa May has been attacked by Labour and Plaid Cymru after it emerged she would not meet Tata on her India visit.

The PM said she had hoped to meet "key people" from the firm, which owns Tata Steel, on her visit but schedules did not allow her to do that.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock accused her of "complacency" while Plaid's Bethan Jenkins said the news was "alarming".

Tata Steel put plans to sell its UK business on hold in the summer as the company considered a European tie-up.

It employs almost 7,000 workers around Wales, including more than 4,000 at its plant in Port Talbot.

Recently the steel firm's former chairman Cyrus Mistry was replaced by Tata Sons with his predecessor, Ratan Tata.

Mrs May is in Delhi to pave the way for the UK's first post-Brexit trade deal.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cyrus Mistry was recently replaced as chairman of Tata Steel

"I had hoped to be able to meet key people from Tata while I was in India," said Mrs May.

"Sadly, the schedules don't allow me to do that on this particular visit.

"But there are regular contacts between the Government and Tata Steel for some time now. There continues to be those regular contacts to ensure we maintain - as been maintained so far - that steel production in the UK."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tata employs thousands at its plant in Port Talbot

First Minister Carwyn Jones told a meeting of the assembly's external affairs committee on Monday the matter was "unfortunate".

Mr Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon which takes in the Port Talbot steelworks, said the government should have sought to meet Tata "at a time of great uncertainty thanks to the ongoing talks around a joint venture, internal changes at Tata, the ongoing dumping of Chinese steel and Brexit".

He said: "The approach of the government towards our steel industry has been characterised by a combination of incompetence and indifference, and today's news confirms that we can throw complacency in the mix too."

Plaid's Ms Jenkins said it was "extremely alarming that the Prime Minister has failed to arrange a meeting with senior figures at Tata Sons Ltd during her visit to India".

She added: "With the long-term future of the Welsh and UK steel industry remaining uncertain, the prime minister needed to make a meeting with Tata a priority."

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