'The steel industry in Britain is being destroyed by privatisation, this Tory government and our membership of the European Union', Robert Griffiths told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday evening.
He was speaking in the wake of the 1,050 redundancies announced by the Tata steel corporation earlier this week, which came on top of around 4,600 job losses in the industry since last summer.
Mr Griffiths pointed out that, after privatisation, most of Britain's steel industry is owned by overseas companies with no commitment to maintaining what remains of the country's industrial base.
He also pointed out that the privatised energy monopolies are getting away with charging the steel industry here twice as much for electricity as public sector companies charge its counterparts in France and Germany.
'But it is the EU free market which has done most to destroy jobs in Britain's steel communities', the Communist Party general secretary accused, pointing out that employment in the industry had halved to just 18,000 since the onset of the 'single European market' in 1992.
'While cheaply produced Chinese exports are being widely blamed for our steel decline, the reality is that Britain imports seven times more steel from the EU than from China as our trade deficit worsens', Mr Griffiths revealed.
At the same time, he added, EU trade and competition rules forbid the British government imposing emergency duties or quotas on steel imports from inside and outside the EU, or providing emergency grants and loans to the industry.
'The Tory government should defy the EU to save the steel industry in Britain before it disappears altogether and leaves us entirely at the mercy of overseas producers for vital supplies', the Communist Party leader demanded.
The CP political committee also reiterated the party's support for energy price controls and public ownership of the steel and energy industries, noting that even the right-wing Italian government has nationalised the giant Ilva steelworks in Puglia a bid to save jobs and local communities there.

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