First Minister leads fight to save carrier jobs

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First Minister Alex Salmond has called on Scotland’s political leaders to unite behind the Scottish Government in a bid to save thousands of jobs put at risk as a result of the UK coalition government’s defence spending review.

The SNP are seeking a joint submission to the UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox in an attempt at ensuring that two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers are constructed on the Clyde and at Rosyth.


First Minister Alex Salmond has called on Scotland’s political leaders to unite behind the Scottish Government in a bid to save thousands of jobs put at risk as a result of the UK coalition government’s defence spending review.

The SNP are seeking a joint submission to the UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox in an attempt at ensuring that two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers are constructed on the Clyde and at Rosyth.

The SNP leader revealed that he has written to the Holyrood leaders of the three Unionist parties as well as Scottish Greens’ Patrick Harvie and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald inviting them to a meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.

In the letter Mr Salmond states:  “Clearly there are areas where it will not be possible to reach agreement.

“However, there will be a number of areas where agreement will be possible – particularly the economic impact of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

“As I said in parliament, we should make a joint submission from all parties covering these core arguments, and this should be sent to the Secretary of State for Defence as soon as possible.”

The Scottish government estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 job losses if the UK coalition government cancels the builds.  The SNP initiative follows an admission from Sir Ian King, chief executive of defence contractor BAE systems, who revealed that the company had been asked to consider a number of options ranging from “one carrier to no carrier”.

The contracts are under threat as the new Westminster government seek to make cuts in order to address what they have described as the financial mess left behind by Labour.

However the SNP’s deputy leader and MSP for Govan, Nicola Sturgeon, has urged the Tory/Lib Dem coalition to commit to the builds and warned that the world class yards were reliant on the contracts.

Ms Sturgeon said:
“It is time the Tories gave us some clarity over the future of the carriers with a firm commitment to see these projects through.

“There are thousands of jobs at the best shipbuilders in the world currently reliant on this contract and the Ministry of Defence refusal to fully commit is causing great concern.
 
“Any sensible assessment by the Tories would show that these vessels are needed and the Clyde is the best place to build them.

“I will be writing again to the MoD and in contact with BAE to see what more can be done to make the case and secure these valuable jobs.”

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