Pressure kept up on David Cameron to answer critics over shipbuilding

David Cameron at Portsmouth Naval Base last month. Picture: Malcolm Wells (150296-1224)
David Cameron at Portsmouth Naval Base last month. Picture: Malcolm Wells (150296-1224)

Engine woes end mission

  • Lib Dem group leader criticises David Cameron’s response to Portsmouth shipbuilding letter
  • Leader of Portsmouth City Council will be urged to keep up pressure
  • Labour says it will back council motion
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THE prime minister is facing fresh criticism over his announcements about the future of Portsmouth’s shipyard.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the city’s Lib Dem group leader, wrote to David Cameron demanding to know why he did not live up to his promise to bring back shipbuilding.

I want to keep up the pressure and want to say to the prime minister – the people of Portsmouth have not been fooled.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South

Mr Cameron said Magma Structures and BAE Systems would come to breathe new life into the shiphalls and their work would involve shipbuilding.

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson felt the Tory leader had ‘lied’ to the city as the firms will just build composite structures and maintain minesweeper vessels.

Now the prime minister’s office has replied to Cllr Vernon-Jackson – but only to say his concerns had been passed on to the Ministry of Defence.

And the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South says it is not good enough and the city has been ‘fobbed off’ by the government.

‘The prime minister came down and made the announcement, now he is not prepared to defend his failure to bring shipbuilding back to the city,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

‘He has failed to deliver and should answer and not try to fob it off.

‘I want to keep up the pressure and want to say to the prime minister – the people of Portsmouth have not been fooled.’

It comes ahead of a meeting of the full council on Tuesday where the Lib Dems will call on Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the council, to write to the PM asking when shipbuilding will return.

James Davis, naval base services director at BAE Systems, has already said moving warship maintenance work into the shiphalls will provide ‘every opportunity’ for future job growth.

Cllr John Ferrett, Labour parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North, said he would support the Lib Dem notice of motion.

‘We welcome anything that promotes the cause of shipbuilding in our city,’ he said.

‘We campaigned more than any other party about the loss of shipbuilding.’