Bargain basement contracts betray UK shipworkers

Lesley Laird MP has backed UK defence workers in their campaign for Royal Navy ships to be built in Britain.

Ahead of a debate in parliament tomorrow (Wednesday) Trade Union members lobbied in London calling for a contract for three new Fleet Solid Support ships to remain in the UK.

The lobby, organised by the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), followed warnings that the UK could miss out on £1.35 billion if the contract is awarded overseas.

Lesley Laird met with shipbuilding workers at the event and commented it would be a “travesty if the Government remained hell bent on pursuing an international tender.”

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “This government should be backing Britain’s shipbuilding industry – following the lead of other countries who heavily support and subsidise their own industry – instead of this Tory Government bargain basement approach.

“But so far they choose not to; despite the fact that Article 346 of the Lisbon Treaty gives member states almost unlimited freedom of action over defence procurement and that every other nation exercises that freedom to ensure they maintain the shipbuilding capability.”

“As the saying goes: if you buy cheap you buy dear, and the cost for Britain to lose this contract would be enormous in terms of redundancies, loss of skills and the steady dissolution of our shipbuilding industry.

“In simple terms if we stop investing in our nation’s shipbuilding capability we will lose it.  And once it’s gone, it’s gone.  As an  island nation are we really saying we no longer want that capability? Because that is exactly what is at stake here.

“For workers, their families and our communities the right, forward-thinking choice may not, on paper, be the cheapest but would generate a much greater reward in the longer term.

“It’s an indisputable fact that keeping this contract in the UK would bring millions of pounds of taxes back to the treasury; £285m by one recent estimate.

“But beyond that, the benefit for families of keeping people in work is incalculable – not just to the workers and families themselves – but to local shops and businesses that keep our communities flourishing.”

Lesley concluded: “Theresa May wanted a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’. Well, it’s time for her to put her money where her mouth is and apply that philosophy wholesale by supporting Britain’s shipbuilding industry.”