Britain is "doing everything it can" to help the country's stricken steel industry following Tata Steel's decision to put its British business up for sale, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday.
Following a crisis meeting with ministers, Cameron said the threat of thousands of job losses was "a very difficult situation" but dismissed calls for the renationalisation of the industry.
"We are not ruling anything out," he said. "But I don't believe nationalisation is the right answer."
Indian steel giant Tata employs around 15,000 staff in Britain, including the country's biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in Wales.
"Those jobs are vital to workers' families, vital to those communities and the government will do everything it can working with the company to try and secure the future of steelmaking in Port Talbot and across our country, it's a vital industry," said Cameron.
The government has come under fire over its response to the announcement, with Labour MP Stephen Kinnock accusing it of being in "total disarray."
"We need an urgent plan of direct assistance to Tata Steel while it finds a buyer," he said Thursday.
Cameron claimed that intervention by the government had "guaranteed that there is a sale process" and that Britain was just one of many countries struggling with low steel prices.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid was due to visit Port Talbot later Thursday having cut short a trade visit to Australia.
An online petition calling for the steel industry to be renationalised has received more than 8,000 signatures.