Boris Johnson in Birkenhead – but will the Navy’s ships be built here?

Mick Whitley, MP for Birkenhead, has greeted the announcement of the government’s National Ship Building Strategy (NSS) with some serious concerns.

He warned that behind the fancy phrases uttered by the Prime Minister during his visit to Cammell Laird in Birkenhead today that the strategy lacked detail or real guarantees.

Mick Whitley said, “It is all very well having shipbuilding ‘in our blood’ as Johnson said, but jobs, apprenticeships, skills and investment in the sector are all guaranteed by full order books for ships not lofty rhetoric.

“A thirty-year pipeline for the industry is welcome, but this strategy fails to British shipyards the cast-iron guarantees of work that they need.

“I’ve consistently called on Ministers to adopt a policy of building in Britain by default.

“Today’s announcement contains no such commitment.

“There are a wealth of highly-skilled jobs, training opportunities, and skills in British shipbuilding and shipyards like Cammell Laird have a vital role to play in levelling-up left-behind towns like Birkenhead. But the Government looks set to continue selling out British shipyards by sending work abroad.

“Building in Britain is about protecting and creating jobs and work, but it’s also important for the security of the country in a fast-changing and volatile world.

“The strategy also fails to address the immediate challenge of securing work for British yards in the short-term. It’s no good telling shipbuilders that things will get better in five or ten years’ time, when many yards are facing enormous challenges now.

“Today’s announcement was big on hyperbole, but it remains to be seen what this will mean for shipbuilders like Cammell Laird in the long term.

“The next major test of this Government’s resolve is the competition for the new Fleet Solid Support Ships. Ministers must ensure that these vessels are built and designed in their entirety in the UK. Anything else would be a historic betrayal of Britain’s shipyards and towns like Birkenhead.”

Mick says he remains committed to campaigning for the NSS to be translated into hard and fast action plan to breathe new life into an industry that “successive Tory governments tried hard to make extinct.” He says his priority remains getting work for Cammell Laird and other British shipyards.

Image: Mick Whitley MP and Shadow Defence Procurement Minister Chris Evans, on a visit to Cammell Laird last week.

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