So now, at least, we know that there is very little to no chance of naval shipbuilding returning to Portsmouth.
While most held either pro-union or pro-independence sympathies on Thursday night, many in our area were focused on a different facet to the debate.
If Scotland voted Yes, Portsmouth could have been in line to see the return of BAE. Having announced last November it would leave for the Clyde, if Scotland became a ‘foreign’ country BAE would be in no position to build English vessels, and would have to think again. But that hope, which for months had seemed a genuine beacon for the laid-off shipbuilders of south Hampshire, has now been extinguished.
However, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically a cause for despair. We’ve reported before that there are companies interested in moving into the yard, and they are not just concerned with conventional shipbuilding. And as the arrival of Ben Ainslie Racing has shown, Portsmouth can still attract marquee names.
But now the return of BAE can be ruled out, let’s see some more concrete plans for the yard – and indeed the city. After David Cameron’s pledge to save shipbuilding, written in a letter to The News this year, let us see some more influence wielded from Number 10 as compensation for losing centuries of tradition.
Matthew Hancock, the second minister for Portsmouth appointed by Mr Cameron as part of measures to help the city, has been quiet of late. While we obviously accept that not all work is carried out in the open, he has been noticeably lower-profile than his predecessor Michael Fallon.
The role was created to bang the drum and act as an ambassador for the city, and an update from the minister would be welcomed.
We’re confident that this area is resilient enough to survive and indeed prosper in the long term, post-BAE. There’s evidence all around us; we report on it every day. But Portsmouth and south Hampshire can’t do it on its own.
Let’s indeed move on – but some support would not just be welcomed but is necessary.
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