A FURIOUS former head of the Royal Navy has branded the city’s Liberal Democrats as ‘bloody clueless’ over comments they made about a new breed of warship.
Enraged Admiral Lord Alan West has lashed out at the Lib Dems for continuing to put their weight behind a defunct campaign to have the Type 26 frigates based in Portsmouth.
The Ministry of Defence has already confirmed the eight state-of-the-art warships will be based at Devonport Naval Base, in Plymouth.
However, in the Liberal Democrats’ newsletter, the Portsmouth & Southsea Express, the party said it was still campaigning to have the hi-tech submarine hunters based in Portsmouth.
The Lib Dems accused both the Tories and Labour of ‘putting party politics’ before the city, in a move the party said was harming future job prospects on the island.
However, Labour peer Admiral Lord West said the comments were nothing but political spin.
The retired First Sea Lord said: ‘The Lib Dems are making complete prats of themselves. They’re bloody clueless.
‘The Type 26s should go down to Devonport. It makes perfect sense. They are ASW (anti-submarine warfare) ships and that’s where the current Type 23 ASWs are based.
‘The Lib Dems are talking rubbish.’
Explaining the Lib Dem stance in the newsletter, Councillor Dave Ashmore, the city’s environment and community safety boss, wrote: ‘The dockyard has been at the heart of our great city for a very long time.
‘We have already lost shipbuilding here. Enough is enough. This isn’t about party politics, it’s about what is in the best interests of Portsmouth.’
Lib Dem council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he stood by his party’s comments and instead took aim at the city’s two MPs, Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt for ‘backing Plymouth’.
He said: ‘Our job is to stand up for Portsmouth. So I will make no apology for doing this.
‘It’s the view of this council that the frigates should be based here. One of the primary roles of them is to protect the carriers which are based here.’
The council leader said he felt there was an ‘argument’ for having sections of the navy separated by geography, suggesting all the surface fleet should be based in Portsmouth.
He added: ‘One of the things coming back to me loud and clear is that the Plymouth MPs are very successful at campaigning to get more resources moved to Plymouth and into their naval base. We will continue to fight for Portsmouth.’
Lord West said this was unwise and that it was more strategic to keep the surface fleet split.
He added the newest generation five of budget-price frigates, the Type 31e, should ‘all come to Portsmouth’.