The Ministry of Defence has the chance to secure thousands of jobs along the Mersey and around other ports in the UK – and it should use it.
The forthcoming order for support ships that supply and back up the Royal Navy is worth around £1 billion and everything should be done to see these ships built by British builders.
The government has the freedom under EU law to create or secure up to 6,500 jobs, including 1,805 shipyard jobs, through its decision. These jobs are highly skilled and many are better paid than the average for all jobs.
If these ships are built here, then £285 million of the estimated cost of the order could be returned to taxpayers – money that would be lost should the order go overseas.
Under existing EU rules Member States have almost unlimited freedom of action over defence procurement.
However, unlike other member states, in practice the UK government only applies these protections to vessels it defines as ‘warships.’
The Ministry of Defence says that Fleet Solid Support Ship order will be put to international tender. My colleague and Shadow Secretary of State for Defence Nia Griffith has said that Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships used to help defend the country and offer humanitarian aid around the world should be built in UK shipyards, providing well-paid, high-skilled work and offering quality apprenticeships.
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