A POLITICAL tussle has erupted after Labour pledged to base all of the navy’s new Type 26 frigates in Plymouth if the party won the next election
The vow was made by shadow defence secretary, Nia Griffith and backed by Labour’s MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan.
But Portsmouth North’s Tory MP Penny Mordaunt has hit back, accusing Labour of ‘trading the futures’ of the UK’s three naval bases for ‘political’ gains.
Ms Griffith claimed the case for basing the eight hi-tech vessels in Devonport was ‘compelling, comprehensive and convincing’, and pledged her party would make it happen if they trumped Theresa May in the next election.
But Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Decisions on where the surface fleet should be based should be taken on what is best for the navy and to ensure that the strategic merit of having three navy bases can be sustained.
Our armed forces personnel deserve better than those three bases being traded against each other for political reasonsPenny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP
‘The base review rightly committed us to three bases, each with it own centre of excellence.
‘Our armed forces personnel deserve better than those three bases being traded against each other for political reasons.
‘Portsmouth, Plymouth and Faslane should all have a bright future, and all have enough ships and works to sustain them and a local work force.’
The Type 26 will replace the fleet of 13 Type 23 frigates as the Royal Navy’s new workhorse.
Although only eight of the vessels have been ordered, the numbers are due to be bolstered by the addition of a new, cheaper frigate, the Type 31.
Steel was cut on the first Type 26, HMS Glasgow, in July last year. She is expected to enter service in the mid 2020s.
Mr Morgan said under the Tories the Ministry of Defence had lurched from ‘crisis to crisis’,
‘Labour believes in a strong defence and that means protecting jobs and capabilities across the nation, which is why this plan makes strategic and operational sense to base-port the new Type 26s in Plymouth,’ he said.
‘Our city, the base-port for the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the Type 45 destroyers, the mine counter-measure vessels, refuelling jetty and the Type 31, will well and truly keep Portsmouth the great home of the Royal Navy and importantly, secure the city’s base for the future.’