MP Penny Mordaunt has defended the minister for Portsmouth and described a senior councillor’s motion to have the position scrapped as ‘damaging’.
The Portsmouth North representative yesterday wrote to Portsmouth City Council’s Labour leader, Councillor John Ferrett, ahead of a vote today on his proposal to tell the authority’s chief executive to write to the prime minister and ask for the position to be ‘disestablished’.
The minister for Portsmouth position in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was created in January to represent the city following the announcement that shipbuilding in the city would end.
Ms Mordaunt (pictured) wrote: ‘The unprecedented position of minister for Portsmouth was created in the wake of BAE’s decision to move its shipbuilding business north. It was something we asked to be done; it was not an initiative thrust upon us.
‘It became very clear that to rebuild an order book for the yard, whether in the commercial or defence sector or both, would require Whitehall to move at a pace, and that having someone dedicated to this at ministerial level would be key to ensuring that happened.
‘To proceed with your intended motion would be, at best, unhelpful to the future of the yard, and at worst could be regarded as a deliberate attempt to sabotage the huge effort that has been made to rebuild an order book.’
But Councillor Ferrett, who is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ms Mordaunt’s constituency, said he would press ahead with the motion at a full council meeting this afternoon.
He said: ‘It does not change our view as a Labour group in the city. Clearly we can only go on the basis of the evidence that we have. David Cameron had made a promise to this city that he has not kept. It would have been helpful if Penny Mordaunt had joined the trade unions and workers in marching to keep naval shipbuilding in the city.’