‘Today we see Portsmouth firmly looking to the future’: David Cameron writes for The News

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Prime Minister

There was huge disappointment when shipbuilding left its historic home in 2013.

David Cameron

David Cameron

But today we see Portsmouth firmly looking to the future.

You can see that in the cutting-edge satellites taking shape at Airbus.

You can see it in the construction of the Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters on the Camber.

You can see it in the thousands of staff maintaining ships on Her Majesty’s Naval Base.

And you can see it in the development of technology for unmanned submarines and boats in Portsdown.

You can also see it in the figures – in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, down 42 per cent since 2010; the number of apprenticeships started, up 282,000 across the south east; and in the thousands of new businesses created throughout the region.

This is what our long-term economic plan is all about: creating the jobs, growth and investment that will bring prosperity to places like Portsmouth.

Today we’re announcing some further steps in that plan – steps that bring us closer to securing the future of this city.

First, we are announcing the two businesses the Ministry of Defence has chosen to occupy the shipbuilding hall, with final negotiations finishing by the end of March.

This is a symbolic moment for Portsmouth; it’s what people in the city have long been waiting for.

After a time of uncertainty, the iconic hall will once again become a hive of activity and opportunity – and a crucial part of the city’s marine industry.

I think of what this means for Portsmouth: of the lifelong residents who will be proud to see the hall buzzing once again; of the students who will see new opportunities emerging in their local area; of the companies who will reap the benefits of making the ship hall their home.

All this is thanks to the support of local businesses and residents, the teamwork across government and the council, and, of course, The News’s coverage and campaigning.

Second, we are announcing the firms that have been chosen to prepare the naval base for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.

The ships are the largest in Royal Naval history – longer than the Spinnaker Tower is tall.

To make the necessary changes we are investing £100 million, more than half of which is being announced today.

The companies being unveiled will ensure that the jetty is big enough for these 65,000-tonne ships and that they can navigate into the base.

Ahead of the final funding being announced in the summer, the city can look ahead to that exciting moment at the beginning of 2017, when HMS Queen Elizabeth makes Portsmouth her home.

Finally, we are announcing a £420m contract with Boeing to service the Royal Air Force’s Chinook helicopters.

This will sustain 450 jobs, the majority of which are at Vector, just across the water in Gosport.

It’s another example of the fantastic service that the high-tech industries in this region provide our Armed Forces – and it’s another boost for the area.

For centuries, Portsmouth has played its part in protecting Britain – from launching the ships that triumphed at Trafalgar to those that preserved the sovereignty of the Falklands.

With vital aircraft carriers being based here alongside the existing Portsmouth flotilla, and with helicopters being maintained nearby, we will still be able to look to distant seas and skies and see a piece of Portsmouth, keeping our country safe.

This government remains committed to maintaining that maritime and military prowess.

We are not there yet, not by a long way. We need to finish the job we’ve started and stick to our plan – because only then we will build that better, brighter future we all want to see.