David Cameron
Pfizer and AstraZeneca Deal: UK Government Makes 'No Apology' For Getting Involved Reuters

The British government issued a strong statement to the public by saying that it makes "no apology" for getting involved with the Pfizer's hostile takeover bid for UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca as potentially thousands of jobs are at stake.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesperson said: "We will engage very actively with both companies in terms of the importance of research & development, of skills, of expanding the skill base in the UK and we will keep doing that."

However, he added that the deal was "a commercial decision between shareholders" and that the British government was "very clear that that is for the shareholders and no one else."

UK Chancellor George Osborne has since said: "Our sole interest here is in securing good jobs in Britain, good manufacturing jobs, good science jobs."

"That's what I'm interested in and we'll support any arrangement that delivers that for Britain."

On 6 May, a British parliamentary committee will call representatives from US drugmaker Pfizer and its UK rival AstraZeneca to discuss a potential merger of the companies, as fears continue to grow over whether such a huge deal would lead to mass job losses in the UK.

A spokesman for the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said a meeting would take place before 26 May.

On 5 May, Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the UK government of "cheerleading" for the deal and demanded an inquiry.

On 29 April, Read confirmed that the US drugmaker has contacted the UK government over its massive merger bid with AstraZeneca after claiming the tie-up would boost the British economy by $100bn (£60bn, €73bn).

However, AstraZeneca shot down three bid offers from the US pharmaceutical titan in the space of a week.

AstraZeneca employs nearly 7,000 people in the UK and is the second largest pharmaceutical in Britain behind GlaxoSmithKline.

Concerns centre around how Pfizer would axe jobs after it announced in 2011 that it planned to cut 2,000 British staff from its payroll and shut its drug research site in Sandwich, southern England, where Viagra was invented.