Government announces £4bn for shipbuilding in the UK - but none for Portsmouth

A PORTSMOUTH MP is hoping to bring shipbuilding back to the city after the prime minister announced a £4bn package to help the UK’s shipbuilding industry.

Saturday, 12th March 2022, 4:55 am

The government claims the multi-billion pound investment will galvanise and support shipyards and suppliers across the UK, delivering a pipeline of more than 150 new naval and civil vessels for the UK government and the devolved administrations over the next 30 years.

However, none of the money is currently earmarked for Portsmouth.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘The shipbuilding strategy is a good step forward for the sector and vital sovereign capabilities for the UK and I welcome it.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson marks a piece of metal, at the Cammel Laird shipyard in Merseyside. Picture date: Thursday March 10, 2022. Photo by: Phil Noble/PA Wire

‘Last week I met with a firm who would like to start building vessels in Portsmouth subject to being awarded a contract.

‘I have wanted building to return to our dockyard and will always be looking for opportunities to do so.’

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But Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘The government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is a bitter disappointment to Portsmouth and a far cry from ministers promising us “levelling-up”.

‘As a city with a proven track record of shipbuilding and ship repair work, it’s beggars belief that ministers have failed to secure a bright future for investment in the heart and home of the Royal Navy.

Government must end the uncertainty of whether these ships will be built in Britain and that they will be delivered on-time and on-budget.

‘As threats from Putin’s Russia grow, it’s vital we ensure sovereign capabilities wherever possible.

‘Labour is committed to a “British built by default” principle, providing communities such as our own with investment in skills and jobs that so many desperately need.

‘I will continue to lobby ministers to secure this for Portsmouth.’

And leading union, Unite has warned that the strategy fails to ensure that in future ships will be built, designed and maintained in the UK.

Unite national officer for shipbuilding Rhys McCarthy said: ‘The government’s promises to ensure additional work for UK shipyards and UK workers is completely hollow when work can be bid for in the UK and then transferred abroad.

‘The UK shipbuilding industry needs a constant drumbeat of work so it can invest in the future.

‘The government must ensure that any bid which puts UK jobs and skills at risk is immediately ruled out.

‘Companies bidding for UK government shipbuilding contracts must be required to design, build and maintain the new vessels in the UK.

‘Not only is the government failing to guarantee work for UK workers, but UK shipyards are not even able to bid for contracts on a level playing field, with many foreign bidders being propped up by their own governments.’

When announcing the strategy on Merseyside, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Shipbuilding has been in our blood for centuries and I want to ensure it remains at the heart of British industry of generations to come.

‘The National Shipbuilding Strategy will transform this important and crucial industry, creating jobs, driving technology development and upskilling the shipbuilders of tomorrow, ensuring we are levelling up across every dock, port and shipyard in the UK.

‘This will ensure the UK is rightly seen as a shipbuilding power across the world.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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