A NORTH-EAST MP has added his name to the list of people calling for British Steel to be nationalised, as the Government continues to speak to potential buyers in a bid to rescue the stricken firm.

Last week, it was announced that Britain's second-largest steel producer was on the brink of collapse putting thousands of jobs at risk, including hundreds in the North East at sites in Lackenby and Skinningrove.

The Northern Echo:

British Steel went into administration on Wednesday after rescue talks with the Government collapsed, but at an emergency meeting attended by North-East politicians in Stockton on Friday, MPs and council leaders from all parties said they were focused on "securing a new owner for British Steel in its entirety".

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has now said it is "critical" to keep British Steel alive by nationalisation, and described the firm's current owners as "irresponsible".

The Northern Echo understands to discussions are to continue this week in an attempt to find a buyer, and bosses at the North-East sites are to meet with some of their main customers in an attempt to reassure them about future plans.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hill said: "To be perfectly frank British Steel is not the British Steel everybody recognises from the great days of the past. It’s a brand owned by a hedge fund company called Greybull, who are nothing more than asset strippers.

"In putting British Steel into liquidation and offering just a mere £1m as an empty gesture to pretend they are interested in rescuing the UK’s one and only national steel production base, they are basically expecting the Government to take over, pay all their debts and pay their shareholders as well.

"The result of this irresponsible approach to putting profit before people and the survival of a national industry born on Teesside is an estimated 700 jobs at Lackenby and Skinningrove as well as thousands of jobs in the supply chain.

"My priority as Hartlepool MP has to first and foremost make sure that our steel industry in Hartlepool is protected from this national crisis. We have a magnificent Steel manufacturing base here and are a global base for specialist products.

"As such I have been in direct touch with Liberty Steel and Tata Steel – both of whom have reassured me that they are resilient to the current British Steel crisis, but that it’s future and the threat of high tariffs in a no deal Brexit scenario are significant issues of national importance.

He added: "In my opinion it is critical that we keep British Steel alive and re- nationalise it. "

A statement from the official receiver said: "Good progress is being made in identifying potential buyers for British Steel. Multiple parties have signed non-disclosure agreements giving them access to a detailed information memorandum and virtual data-room that my team has developed to inform their bids. Expressions of interest are due with me by early June.

"The indemnity provided to me has enabled British Steel to continue to trade and the company retains good support from its customers. I would like to thank the workforce for their ongoing support. All staff have been retained and continue to be paid."