CLAIMS by a Ukip MP that the steel industry in Wales, and across the UK, would be better protected if the country left the European Union have been refuted by a Newport MP.

Douglas Carswell – Ukip’s only Westminster MP – visited Llanwern steelworks today to meet workers and hear about the impact of the crisis in the industry on their lives.

Speaking in Parliament ahead of his visit, the Clacton MP said the UK’s membership of the European Union “makes it much harder for British steelmakers to do business”.

"The EU's anti-fossil-fuel directives and regulations have driven up energy costs, he said.

“And heavy industry is paying the price.

"While Chinese manufacturers make the most of cheap power, fuel costs for ours have rocketed.

"EU interference in our energy market is making it impossible for our industry to compete."

But his claims have been refuted by Labour’s Newport East MP and pro-EU campaigner Jessica Morden, who called his words “inaccurate and opportunist”.

“We should all be pulling together to safeguard the Welsh steel industry and the jobs and communities that depend on it, not using the current difficulties to make cheap political points,” she said.

"As the MP for Newport East I have been calling on the UK government to take action for months.

“That is what the industry needs now, not Leave campaigners making flying visits in a bid to profit from a difficult situation.”

She also called for the UK Government to take more action to protect the country’s embattled steel sector, which was thrown into crisis in March when Tata Steel – which runs plants in Llanwern, Port Talbot and elsewhere – announced it would sell its entire British operation, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

“Douglas Carswell is completely wrong to suggest that Brexit would benefit British steel,” she said.

“In fact, the EU accounts for over half our steel exports and leaving the EU could mean tariffs on the steel we sell into Europe, like those the Canadians must pay, which would be a killer blow for the British steel industry.

“Britain has the tools available to support our steel industry, if only the government would choose to use them.”