The campaign led by Devonport’s MP Luke Pollard to save the amphibious ships from cuts has been a success! The Defence Secretary has just announced at Conservative Conference in Birmingham that HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark are saved from the latest round of defence cuts.
Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said:
“Today is a good day for Devonport. The threat from Conservative defence cuts has been lifted from HMS Albion and HMS Bulwarks. Ministers could and should have ruled out cuts to Devonport’s amphibious ships months ago but its better late than never. The delay in saving these ships has hit morale but it has given Plymouth a shot in the arm. Losing HMS Ocean to Tory defence cuts showed that Ministers are not minded to protect our ships and as a city we have to fight to protect them.
Now we have won the campaign to save the amphibious ships we now need certainty on the future basing arrangements of the new Type 26 frigates. As Devonport’s MP I have been making the case for basing them in Devonport for months and I am confident that Ministers have listened and will agree with Plymouth’s case very soon. Our campaigns are best when they are cross-party and relentless.
But the amphibious ships announcement has a sting in the tail. As there is no new money for defence what we need to know now is what will be cut in place of Albion and Bulwark? I want reassurance that there will be no cuts or delays to the new Type 26 or Type 31 frigates and that the Royal Marines will not be cut further. We have seen off one set of Conservative defence cuts but I fear there are still more to come.”
Fly the Flag for Devonport Campaign
Luke Pollard MP was the first Plymouth MP to raise concerns about speculation that the Ministry of Defence are considering scrapping Devonport based HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark and cutting the Royal Marines. He has persistently raised this issue in Parliament, stating these cuts would be harm Plymouth’s local economy and leave the UK less safe.
Research by Plymouth City Council has estimated cutting the amphibious warships would cause the loss of nearly 1,000 service jobs, with a net loss of 1,320 full-time equivalent jobs in Plymouth, even before cuts to the Royal Marines are accounted for.
Luke started a petition against these cuts which has been supported by more than 25,000 people across the UK and triggered an official government response.
As well as tabling a petition for members of the public to sign Luke also tabled Early Day Motion 391 for MPs to sign. It attracted 22 signatures, including Conservative Chair of the Defence Select Committee, Julian Lewis MP.