‘Buying British means buying Portsmouth’, says Stephen Morgan MP, as Labour calls for Government to back UK shipyards
MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan has welcomed the announcement from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that his party are calling for all future Royal Navy and Fleet Auxiliary ships to be built in the United Kingdom.
New Fleet Solid Support ships are needed to service the Portsmouth-based £6.3 billion Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their strikeforce of new F-35 fighter planes.
The Government’s current policy is to build all Royal Navy warships in the UK but orders for RFA ships are put out to international tender. But Ministers are not bound by normal EU rules on competitive tendering when it comes to military ships.
Shipbuilding and ship repair employment in Great Britain has fallen from an estimated 122,200 in 1981 to under 32,000 in 2016 – threatening the UK’s sovereign defence manufacturing capability.
UK shipbuilding and repair contribute over £2 billion and 30,000 jobs to the economy. The union GMB estimates that £285 million would be returned to the taxpayer through income tax, national insurance contributions and lower welfare payments by keeping these contacts in the UK.
Concerns have also been raised that putting defence contracts out to tender abroad poses a serious long-term threat to national security.
Stephen Morgan MP, said:
‘Whilst the Tories continue to hollow out our sovereign capability by sending defence contracts abroad, Labour’s pledge to build all Navy ships here in the UK will strengthen our military and protect Portsmouth jobs.
I’ve long been fighting for defence contracts to be awarded to our great city, it’s what’s best for our economy and security, and it’s welcome that the Leader of the Opposition agrees.
The Tories promised to bring shipbuilding back to our great city, only to abandon this pledge after the election.
But Labour won’t leave Portsmouth behind. We’re the home of the Royal Navy and have a proud military heritage; It’s clear that buying British means buying Portsmouth.’