Today Jeremy Corbyn called on the Government to build the three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels in British Shipyards. Speaking on a visit to shipyards in Govan in Scotland, the Labour Leader echoed calls made by Labour MPs in recent debates for the three new 40,000 ton ships to be built in Britain.
In a debate last year that was led by Luke Pollard, the Labour MP had called on the Ministry of Defence to use the powers it has under European treaties to designate this contract only for British bidders. The MOD had previously out-sourced the contract to build the new Tide-class of Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers to a shipyard in South Korea.
The debate was called on the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy which set out how the Government wants to offshore the new RFA contracts and build smaller, cheaper frigates for the Royal Navy. In the debate Luke called on the strategy he outlined his view that not only should the new RFA ships be built in British shipyards using British steel (the Government has ordered French steel for the new submarines), but that the new Type 26 frigates should be based in Devonport and the smaller Type 31 frigates should be better armed.
You can watch Luke’s speech in that debate here:
Plymouth has a proud tradition of supporting the Royal Navy but since 2010 we have seen Conservative defence cuts threaten our ships and bases. The Conservatives have most recently sold HMS Ocean, the Devonport-based helicopter carrier, to Brazil and threats remain over HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, the Royal Navy’s two amphibious assault ships. The Royal Marines are also under threat of being cut as well as Stonehouse Barracks and the Royal Citadel being sold off. No decision has been made by Ministers to base the new frigates in Devonport and Luke used the debate to make the case for Devonport. He has called on Conservative MPs to work with him on a cross-party basis to bring the frigates to Devonport saying “we are stronger as a city when we are united but weaker when we are divided.”
Since being elected, Luke has been involved on a wide range of defence issues, including campaigning for more capable and better armed frigates to be base-ported in Devonport.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“A strong defence is vital for Britain, and I am proud to see that Jeremy Corbyn is supporting the campaign to support shipbuilding jobs across the country by building the new RFA ships in Britain. The contract for three 40,000 ton support ships would safeguard 6,500 jobs across the country including many here in the far south west.
The contract for the new support ships is the same tonnage as for the two aircraft carriers and British businesses have demonstrated how effectively they can build the carriers. Those same skilled workers should now be put to good use building the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s new support ships.
At a time when Russian aggression is on the rise, we need a strong sovereign defence capability in shipbuilding. That means not sending contracts abroad that British shipyards could deliver. Sending work abroad is a false economy as British shipyards building British ships means British jobs and 30% of the contract value flowing back to the Treasury in taxes and national insurance. Out-sourcing the contract means out-sourcing the skills, the revenue and the future of British shipbuilding.
I want to see these new ships built in British shipyards and Jeremy Corbyn’s backing of our campaign heaps pressure on the Prime Minister to do the right thing and back British jobs. A decision on where to build these new ships will be taken by Ministers soon. We need to keep the pressure on them so that these ships are built in Britain. Let’s build them here.”
You can watch the latest update on the campaign here: