Defence secretary: Job losses in Portsmouth ‘inevitable’

STATEMENT Defence Secretary Philip Hammond MP
STATEMENT Defence Secretary Philip Hammond MP
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MAJOR jobs losses in the shipbuilding industry were ‘inevitable’ as work on the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers came to an end, the defence secretary has said.

Philip Hammond has described the loss of shipbuilding in the city as ‘a harsh blow to Portsmouth.’

His statement to the House of Commons came after BAE Systems announced 1,775 jobs are at risk - 940 of which are in the city.

The problem lies with a gap in the order books between the completion of the aircraft carriers and the expected contract for the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates.

Mr Hammond said: ‘Without a shipbuilding order to fill that gap the Ministry of Defence would be required to pay BAE Systems for shipbuilders and workers to stand idle, producing nothing while their skills fade.’

He added: ‘The loss of such a significant number of jobs is of course regrettable but was always going to be inevitable as the workload associated with the carrier build comes to an end.

‘I want to pay tribute to the men and women in the Clyde and in Portsmouth who have contributed so much .’

Mr Hammond said more than £100m will be invested in infrastructure in Portsmouth in the next three years ‘to ensure that the carriers can be properly maintained and supported.’

He said: ‘I know that the loss of shipbuilding capability will be a harsh blow to Portsmouth. The government and the city council together with Southampton are in discussion about a city deal package for the area.

Mr Hammond added: ‘’With both carriers based in Portsmouth the tonnage of vessels based in the port will be at its highest level since the 1960s.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘The end of shipbuilding in Portsmouth is devastating.’