David Cameron will chair a meeting in Downing Street later to discuss the crisis in the steel industry, amid growing fears of huge job losses in the sector.
The Government has been criticised for its response to Indian conglomerate Tata’s announcement that it will sell its UK assets, including the country’s biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in south Wales.
Unions have accused ministers of sending mixed messages after initially saying the Government was looking at all options to retain steelmaking before ruling out nationalisation.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who visited Port Talbot on Wednesday, said he was shocked Business Secretary Sajid Javid did not believe this could be the solution.
Mr Javid has cut short a business trip to Australia to help deal with the fallout from Tata’s announcement.
The Government rejected calls from Labour to recall Parliament, a move accepted by the Welsh Assembly, which will meet next week.
Mr Javid said the steel industry was “absolutely vital for the country”, adding: “I’m deeply concerned about the situation.
“I think it’s absolutely clear that the UK steel industry is absolutely vital for the country and we will look at all viable options to keep steelmaking continuing in Port Talbot.”
Tata Steel’s plant in Port Talbot, south Wales, and David Cameron (inset). But he said he did not think nationalisation was the solution.
“At this stage, given the announcement from Tata has just come out, it’s important I think we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and we look at all viable options”, Mr Javid said.
“I don’t think nationalisation is going to be the solution because I think everyone would want a long-term viable solution.”
The PM could raise the issue with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi when the pair attend an international summit in Washington later.
Mr Corbyn called on the Government to intervene and ensure British-made steel is used to build infrastructure in the country, while shadow business secretary Angela Eagle said the Budget was a missed opportunity to help the industry.
Dave Hulse from the GMB union said: “David Cameron should be ashamed of himself for ruling out a recall of Parliament.”
Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said: “Seeing confusion and mixed messages from ministers will only increase the worry of steelworkers across the UK.
“The fact that one minute they are saying they are looking at all the options and the next they’re saying some form of nationalisation is not a solution shows a government divided and without the political will to take the tough action necessary to save our industry.”