Gordon Brown in last-ditch bid to save 1,700 Corus steel jobs

Gordon Brown is to personally intervene in a last-ditch effort to save up to 1,700 jobs at a steelworks which is due to be mothballed, a Government minister said.

Solicitor General Vera Baird was one of three Labour MPs who held urgent talks with the Prime Minister at his home in Scotland over the fate of the Corus plant on Teesside.

She said he had agreed to work behind the scenes to try to revive a deal with an international consortium to take over the plant by offering Government help.

Mothballed: A snow covered beach at the Corus steelworks, at Redcar

Mothballed: A snow covered beach at the Corus steelworks, at Redcar

The collapse of the planned 10-year contract sparked the sudden announcement last month that the plant was to be mothballed, with Corus accusing the four firms of "walking away" from the deal.

Ms Baird said Mr Brown was "going to see if there is any way to revive these purchasers by indicating through diplomatic channels that the Government will help make that deal".

Gordon Brown has agreed 'to work behind the scenes'

Gordon Brown has agreed 'to work behind the scenes'

Once he had "something positive to suggest", she said, the PM had indicated that he would speak directly with Ratan Tata, chairman of Corus's parent company, the Indian giant Tata.

The MP, who was joined by fellow local MPs Ashok Kumar and Dari Taylor, warmly welcomed Mr Brown's promise of help but warned that time was running out to prevent the jobs being lost.

With existing contracts at an end, mothballing may happen this month unless a buyer is found, she said.

"I feel that we are leaving literally no stone unturned if we have the Prime Minister involved personally."

She said her New Year's message to the workers whose jobs are under threat would be: "Keep your chins up. Nobody is promising anything but we are still fighting."

Ms Baird, who is the MP for Redcar where the plant is situated, told the Northern Echo newspaper: "There was a real sense of urgency, which we welcomed.

"We have now got to keep going - anything that has to be done, will be done."

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