Royal Navy: Fresh fears raised about £1bn contract to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales support ships being given to Spain

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Union leaders have raised fears that contracts to build supply vessels for the Royal Navy could go to Spain – as rumours suggest a deal has been signed to smooth Brexit negotiations.

The GMB said industry sources were suggesting the £1bn contract for Fleet Solid Support ships could go to the Navantia naval yard in northern Spain.

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth in October 2017  Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth in October 2017 Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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There are believed to be five bidders to build Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, with the Rosyth yard in Fife, Scotland, in line for work if Babcock wins the contract.

The GMB said there were rumours that a decision to give the work to Spain could be linked to Brexit-related negotiations over the future of Gibraltar.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB, said: ‘If the contracts for these ships go abroad, the government is basically sticking two fingers up to shipbuilding communities and the entire manufacturing industry in the UK.

‘No other government would outsource national security. If it is true this deal is being done because of ministers' abject failure to sort out Brexit then it's not just negligent, it's grubby and reeks of self-preservation and putting party politics ahead of people's livelihoods and communities.

‘If this is what the Government is planning, it needs to think again.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We are required by law to procure the Fleet Solid Support ships through open international competition. We issued formal tender documents to bidders, including a UK consortium, in late 2018.

‘The final decision regarding the winning bid will be made in 2020.’