Fight to protect Portsmouth shipyard is taken to the chancellor

MEETING Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was due to meet chancellor George Osborne
MEETING Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was due to meet chancellor George Osborne

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CITY MP Penny Mordaunt was due to hold talks with the Chancellor George Osborne today over the future of the city’s shipbuilding industry.

Ms Mordaunt hoped to rally his support and make him aware of companies that are interested in continuing work at the city’s shipyard.

Penny Mordaunt MP

Penny Mordaunt MP

She also wanted to highlight the fact local authorities and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership will want to apply for grants to help businesses that want to move there.

It comes after BAE Systems announced in November it was moving shipbuilding duties to Scotland, a move that has left 940 jobs at risk.

Ms Mordaunt, who was due to meet Mr Osborne at the House of Commons at 1.30pm, said she wants every government department to get behind the effort to protect shipbuilding.

She said Mr Osborne was a key part of the process because he was influential in getting Ocean Patrol Vessels built.

‘The Chancellor and HM Treasury are involved in every government department,’ Ms Mordaunt said.

‘I want a whole-government approach to getting momentum behind new companies coming in the yard.

‘I will be briefing him on some of the organisations that have come forward and expressed an interest.

‘I will also be talking to him about financial support and things that the LEP and local authorities may ask for.

‘I see him as an important ally in terms of getting what we need to happen in Portsmouth.’

So far, about 17 companies have registered an interest in the yard and Ms Mordaunt anticipates more will come forward.

Meanwhile, she has defended the Prime Minister for not responding to The News’ open letter calling on him to address the future of shipbuilding.

She said David Cameron was working hard behind the scenes to ensure shipbuilding still has a future in Portsmouth, and wanted to shown he had taken ‘practical steps’ before coming back with a reply.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The response will be practicable and tangible.

‘He understands why it’s not just important to the city, but to the country as well that we protect these skills.’

Ms Mordaunt was also set to ask the Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions today whether retaining shipbuilding in Portsmouth is of ‘strategic importance’ in the hope concerns about the government’s attitude towards the situation is rectified.