Portsmouth City Council leader hits out at BAE Systems after it warns on Scottish independence vote

BAE Systems at Portsmouth naval base
BAE Systems at Portsmouth naval base
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Picture Zachary Culpin/Solent News & Photo Agency UK

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DEFENCE giant BAE Systems has warned about the business risks of Scotland separating from the UK – just months after announcing its intention to close Portsmouth’s shipyard and move its operations to the Clyde.

The firm said a No vote in the upcoming referendum would offer ‘great certainty and stability’ for its business.

But the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, says it shows the company should never have closed Portsmouth’s yard before the outcome is known.

BAE, which employs thousands of people north of the border, made the statement in its annual report published just a few months after it decided to concentrate shipbuilding in Scotland rather than Portsmouth.

The city’s political leaders had repeatedly urged BAE not to close the shipyard before the Scottish referendum.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It is no surprise BAE has taken a view that they want Scotland to remain part of the UK, because they realise if it doesn’t, they will have to move jobs back here and out of Scotland.

‘But it beggars belief that they decided to make the decision before the outcome of the referendum is known.

‘They should not have made that decision before the result.

‘It’s a risky business strategy and the are playing fast and loose with the defence of this country and are trying now to influence the outcome of the referendum.’

The company now joins a list of firms including Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, Shell, Lloyds and Barclays in highlighting the risks associated with the September vote.

Its report states: ‘The decision on independence from the UK is a matter for the people of Scotland.

‘However, BAE systems has significant interests and employees in Scotland, and it is clear that continued union offers greater certainty and stability for our business.

‘In the event that Scotland voted to become independent, we would need to discuss the way forward with the Ministry of Defence and UK Government, and work with them to deliver the best solution in those 

BAE Systems has a number of defence contracts with the UK Government, including warship building on the Clyde.

BAE’s stance shows it is wrong to quit Portsmouth - read The News’ Comment on this issue