30/09/2015 12:11 BST | Updated 06/10/2015 15:59 BST

Nadhim Zahawi Says Saving Redcar Steel Plant Is 'Bad Economics' After He Claimed Expenses To Heat Stables

David Jones/PA Archive
MP for Stratford on Avon Nadhim Zahawi adjusts his glasses during a discussion on 'The United Kingdom in Action' during the second day of the Conservative Party Conference

A millionaire Tory MP who previously claimed expenses for heating private stables at his second home has today suggested it is "bad economics" to save the Redcar steel plant from closure.

Nadhim Zahawi, who represents Stratford-Upon-Avon in the Commons, rubbished calls to help bolster investment at the troubled manufacturing factory and save the some 1,700 jobs under threat.

In 2013, Zahawi was discovered using taxpayers' money to warm a horse riding school stables, as well as his yard manager's mobile home. He paid back the money upon the story being unearthed and apologised, but was not investigated by expenses' invigilators.

Today, though, he waded into the debate over Sahaviriya Steel Industries round of mass redundancies, saying the business was “on its knees” due to the “glut from cheap Chinese steel”.

Zahawi pictured laughing with the Prime Minister

When asked whether the £25m investment into Jamaican prisons announced by David Cameron would be better directed towards the Redcar plant, he said: “£25m in the steel industry, where at the moment it’s on its knees because of the glut from cheap Chinese steel, will be a drop in the ocean.

"What we need to do with the people of Redcar is make sure that there are jobs there. The Government can’t create false jobs.”

He then proceeded to turn on new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who yesterday called on the Government to “step in at the 12th hour” and defend the plant’s workers “like the Italian government has done.”

Zahawi said: “If there’s an operator that will come in and want to operate – absolutely we will work with them. But Jeremy Corbyn mentioned in his speech the Italian example.

"Now, I ask your viewers would you prefer an economy like Italy or one like the UK? You need real jobs, real jobs created by investment. Investment is done when Government creates the atmosphere to invest. So low corporation tax delivers that investment.

“We will work night and day to make sure we help those people. But chucking money at an industry where it’s clearly on the floor…

"SSI tried very hard to keep this place open – the steel industry, at the moment, is in a glut because of Chinese steel. I think it’s bad economics.”

His remarks were blasted by Unite, the UK's largest trade union, who branded them "callous and uncaring".

Assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “The government needs to intervene to provide the necessary assistance to keep the plant in a state of readiness should a buyer emerge in the coming months.

“Nadhim Zahawi’s comments coldly ignore the plight of the workers, their families and the local community. Their livelihoods should not be sacrificed on the altar of international capitalism."