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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands new naval support ships are built in British shipyards

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed defence ministers for ‘selling Britain short’ during five years of delay over vital new naval support ships. The Portsmouth South representative is pressing for a new ‘Built in Britain’ test for defence and security spending.

In the lead up to a major Defence and Security Review (Integrated Review), the Government is reportedly considering tendering the contract for The Fleet Solid Support Ship programme, worth up to £1.5 billion, to foreign companies. Placing the bid with UK yards would secure the future of shipbuilding in the UK. Research by Oxford Economics has found that for every £1 million spent in UK manufacturing there is a further £1.5 million benefit for the wider economy. For every job created in manufacturing a further 1.8 jobs are created in the wider economy – an argument that Mr Morgan has been making for some time as seen in the Defence Journal.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Building British not only helps us maintain our sovereign capability and strengthens national security, it sustains jobs and could be the winning ticket for safeguarding the future of our shipbuilders for years to come.

I know from speaking to British companies that they are ready and willing to build in the UK, the question is, why are Ministers selling Britain short and forcing two British bidders to pitch against foreign firms?

I will continue to work as Shadow Armed Forces Minister to put pressure on Ministers to back Britain and ensure their ill-thought out strategy does not hinder sovereign capability, national security and the future of British defence industry.”

For national security reasons, Royal Navy warships can only be built in the UK but because the supply ships will be part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, they are not classed as warships. The fact Government has not committed to building these ships in Britain has caused concern in the Shadow Defence team, prompting the launch of the Built in Britain test – a set of criteria that seeks to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“For five years, Defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain. They are selling Britain short by not putting the work into UK shipyards. No other major military nation has ordered naval support ships from foreign yards.

“What can be built in Britain now, must be built in Britain. And long-term defence and security procurement, must also involve plans to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain. This is one test by which we will judge the Government’s new Integrated Review of defence and security.”

Following the announcement, Labour have launched an online petition – Tell the Prime Minister: Royal Navy ships should be built in Britain.

Sign here: https://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/royalnavyships