Labour may support decision

REVIEW Vernon Coaker
REVIEW Vernon Coaker
James Rhodes from Waterlooville with the medal he and his surviving shipmates have have been awarded for their work on the supply convoys which helped The Netherlands during the second world war     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (181100-1)

Merchant navy veteran ‘elated’ with war medal after seven-decade battle for recognition

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THE Labour Party has confirmed it would back the end of shipbuilding in Portsmouth if the detail reveals it to be the best move for Britain.

Vernon Coaker MP, shadow defence secretary, has said his party would take time to review the ‘complicated and detailed matters’ behind the decisions.

Mr Coaker said: ‘When the government does the right thing on defence, especially where difficult decisions need to be taken, they will have the support of Labour.

‘We always say and do what we believe is in the interests of Britain and its people. These are complicated and detailed matters and it will take some time to fully examine the consequences of the announcements by BAE Systems and the government.’

He added: ‘My first thoughts are with the employees who are facing job losses, their families and the communities they live.’

His comments came after defence secretary, Philip Hammond, announced BAE’s decision in the House of Commons.

Mr Hammond had confirmed the details of the job losses to MPs, insisting it was ‘inevitable’ changes would have to be made to the numbers of ship builders when the £6bn programme to build two new aircraft carriers came to an end.

Mr Coaker praised the role of trade unions in working with BAE Systems with ‘maturity and leadership’.

He asked if Mr Hammond would confirm decisions were taken on the basis of what is in Britain’s best interests and maintaining the future of the shipbuilding industry our country’s defence.

Mr Hammond said the government is acting in the interests of the United Kingdom.