Chancellor urged to hold talks over Portsmouth shipbuilding

George Osborne
George Osborne

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GEORGE Osborne has been invited to attend a conference to shape the future of shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

The invitation was given by fellow Tory politician Penny Mordaunt when she met with the chancellor yesterday.

The Portsmouth North MP wanted to ensure the government is backing the city’s bid to bring in new shipbuilding contracts and protect jobs at the dockyard.

It comes after BAE Systems announced in November it was moving shipbuilding to Scotland, leaving 940 jobs at risk.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It was a very positive meeting and I wanted to reiterate the opportunities there could be for new companies coming in, and securing jobs.

‘I have requested the government departments involved provide information on the dockyard that can be shared with businesses interested in coming in.

‘We have all the ingredients to keep something really special here, but need the support.

‘There is momentum and we want to be able to give businesses who are interested information on funding and support.’

As previously reported, Ms Mordaunt has held meetings with interested parties who wish to come to Portsmouth and continue its shipbuilding industry.

At yesterday’s meeting, Ms Mordaunt said she has invited Mr Osborne to attend a conference with perspective businesses.

She added: ‘I want to have a conference so businesses can see what the local area has to offer. And I would hope the chancellor attends the event.’

When asked if Prime Minister David Cameron would attend, Ms Mordaunt said that he was aware of the on-going issues.

During Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, Mr Cameron said the future looked promising with the City Deal and plans for the Royal Navy.

But Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, was left unimpressed by the comments.

He said that while plans involving the navy and City Deal were great, nothing new had been said.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘None of those things address the problem raised by the loss of shipbuilding.

‘None of those things are new so there has been no offer from the government to mitigate people in terms of shipbuilding.

‘There has been a resounding silence from the MoD and the ministers there.’