PORTSMOUTH North MP Penny Mordaunt says Scotland’s rejection of independence means it is time to draw a line under hopes of naval shipbuilding returning to Portsmouth.
Had the ‘yes’ vote won in the Scottish referendum, Portsmouth was the first choice for defence giant BAE to return its operation to the city, despite last year announcing it would move to the Clyde.
Scotland staying part of Britain dashed those hopes – but Ms Mordaunt insists it is now time to focus on bringing commercial shipbuilding to Portsmouth.
She said: ‘It is the right result. There are wider issues other than shipbuilding which would be a direct concern to this city. This is the right result for the UK and for Portsmouth.
‘There is now no doubt about Portsmouth’s future. We have been working since the announcement by BAE last year to rebuild the order book for the yard.’
After BAE’s announcement it would be leaving Portsmouth, prime minister David Cameron sent a letter to The News pledging he would keep shipbuilding in the city.
Ms Mordaunt said there are companies looking into moving into the yard,
‘Now there is no reason not to progress that,’ she added. ‘Shipbuilding must remain in the city and I’m confident that it will.
‘We need to have a sustainable order book, and commercial work coming out. And there is the potential for some defence work. There is more shipbuilding and maintenance work going on in it than it has had prior to this date.
‘We are facing a bright future, though it has been a tough year. We must never again be solely reliant on navy orders.’
John Ferrett, negotiations officer for the Prospect union, said it’s now time for Mr Cameron to deliver on his promise to go all-out to secure new business for the yard:
‘Unfortunately, in terms of shipbuilding itself, it probably is the end of the line for the fight from trade unions and workers to try and keep naval shipbuilding in our city,’ he said.
‘But it does not lessen the frustration and anger that our coalition government allowed shipbuilding to be removed from Portsmouth to Scotland.
‘We’re still very disappointed and angry but we accept that is probably it.
‘All we had throughout the closure period was warm words and no action. Unfortunately, we have now lost many of the skilled workers who would be vital to any new business coming in.’
Plan for BAE’s £200m facility is put out to tender
Proposals for a £200m state-of-the-art facility at a BAE Systems shipyard will be put out to tender next week.
The company released details of two potential investment options for its Govan and Scotstoun shipyards in Glasgow earlier this year.
One of the options is a £200m single-site strategy which involves building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Scotstoun.
The second option, a £100m two-site strategy, involves expanding and improving existing facilities at Govan and Scotstoun. Planning applications have been lodged for both proposals, neither of which is expected to lead to job losses.
For local MPs’ reaction to the no vote click here.
For people in Portsmouth’s reaction to the no vote click here.
For The News’ view on this click here.