David Cameron’s critics claim he’s failed on his shipbuilding vow

A part for one of the new aircraft carriers being built in the former BAE ship hall
A part for one of the new aircraft carriers being built in the former BAE ship hall
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DAVID Cameron has failed to deliver on his promise to bring shipbuilding back to Portsmouth.

That is the stark message from politicians who say the prime minister has not delivered on his commitment to the people of the city – as there is no evidence to show vessels and construction jobs will be created.

David Cameron

David Cameron

Portsmouth South’s Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, has written to Mr Cameron outlining his concerns over what he says have been ‘false announcements’ about the shipyard.

Critics say while the prime minister has helped bring Magma Structures and BAE Systems into the shiphall – their work will focus on building composite structures and maintaining mine sweeper vessels and not ship construction.

But Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says Magma will definitely be in the business of building ships – and both companies will be bringing in a combined 400 new jobs.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The prime minister has given the impression that we have got shipbuilding back in Portsmouth, two months before the general election, and that is not true.

‘The BAE work will just involve jobs relocating from somewhere else in the dockyard, so there are no new jobs being created there.

‘There will only be a handful of jobs created from Magma Structures moving out of Portchester.

‘There is the potential for shipbuilding if orders come in – but that’s not good enough.

‘The prime minister is not being honest.

‘He has failed to deliver on his promise, but worse still he has tried to say he has, and he hasn’t.

‘People in this city are not stupid.

‘That’s why he hasn’t been able to say how many new jobs will be created in shipbuilding.

‘What we were looking for was an announcement about people building ships.

‘It may have been order for ferries for Wightlink or Brittany Ferries – that’s what shipbuilding is.’

It comes after the prime minister failed to give a definitive yes or no answer when asked by The News if shipbuilding was part of the plan for the city’s shiphall.

But he reiterated that Portsmouth would be at the ‘cutting edge of technology’ – and said more jobs would be created in the shipyard than the 1,000 lost through BAE Systems moving its shipbuilding duties to the Clyde, in Scotland.

Mr Cameron, pictured, said: ‘What I have always said is that we would do everything we could to put the shipbuilding halls to good use and make sure there was work and there was industry and there were jobs.’

He added: ‘What we’re going to have in terms of the Royal Navy is this enormous amount of ship servicing which involves quite a lot of refurbishment and manufacture.’

Cllr John Ferrett, Prospect union official and Labour parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, said: ‘In terms of bringing shipbuilding back to the city, he clearly has not honoured that promise.

‘The new business going in there (Magma Structures) is not a shipbuilder.

‘David Cameron has shown great disrespect to the people in the city and to workers in the city, particularly those who have spent a lifetime building ships for the Royal Navy.

‘It’s very disrespectful for him to say he will bring in more jobs and secure the jobs of workers there and not bring forward anything to back that up.’

Steve Harris, Ukip’s parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said: ‘A lot of this has been smoke and mirrors.

‘The government is announcing things now which were already said two years ago. In the last 10 years, there has been a demise in defence spending and Portsmouth has been one of the biggest losers.’

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Just taking into account the shiphall, there were originally 940 jobs going to be lost.

‘But this was mitigated; apprentices and most of the workers were redeployed within the maintenance side of things and found other roles and the actual number of job losses ended up being 165.

‘Both Magma and BAE will be bringing in 400 new jobs.

‘Magma makes ships, and it does other things as well.

‘It is a shipbuilder – it does not build steel hulls but it specialises in composite materials. It will be building all sorts of structures in there.’