Goldie first to accept Salmond’s defence talks invite

52
1874

 

Holyrood Conservative leader Annabelle Goldie has become the first of the opposition party leaders to publicly accept First Minister Alex Salmond’s invitation to hold talks aimed at building a united front in the battle to save 10,000 defence related jobs.

The Scottish Conservatives have today publicly signalled their support for a cross party meeting to be held in the wake of news that the contracts to build two aircraft carriers on the Clyde and Rosyth docks are under threat.

  

Holyrood Conservative leader Annabelle Goldie has become the first of the opposition party leaders to publicly accept First Minister Alex Salmond’s invitation to hold talks aimed at building a united front in the battle to save 10,000 defence related jobs.

The Scottish Conservatives have today publicly signalled their support for a cross party meeting to be held in the wake of news that the contracts to build two aircraft carriers on the Clyde and at Rosyth docks are under threat.

There are fears that the UK defence review will lead to one or both contracts being cancelled by the Westminster coalition Government.  BAE systems chief executive Sir Ian King told the Commons the company has been asked to consider a number of options ranging from “one carrier to no carrier”.

The Scottish Government has warned that as many as 10,000 jobs across Scotland could be lost if the £5 billion plan is scrapped.

The First Minister wrote to the leaders of Scotland’s opposition parties on Thursday urging them to join him in making a joint submission to the UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox.  The SNP leader also invited them to attend a meeting of party leaders on Monday to show a “united Scottish front”.

In his letter to the opposition leaders Mr Salmond wrote:
“As I said in Parliament today, 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.  It would of course be open to individual parties to make their own submission in addition if desired.

“To facilitate this discussion, I have asked officials to arrange a joint meeting of party leaders or their designated representatives on Monday 13 September.  I appreciate that this is short notice, however this is required in order to allow for the submission to be sent to the UK Government early enough to have an impact.

I am content for there to be a joint meeting across all parties with the Secretary of State for Defence to discuss the joint submission, and have asked officials to explore this possibility with their counterparts in the Ministry of Defence.”

Miss Goldie said: “I have confirmed to the First Minister that I shall attend the meeting of party leaders on Monday. I think it extremely important that there is a robust and cogent argument presented for Scotland to the defence review.

“We must reflect the core importance, not just to the UK defence facility, but also to the Scottish economy and our Scottish communities of the significant UK defence presence here in Scotland.

“To me there is impact and strength if that submission can reflect cross-party agreement. We are all in this together, to do our best for Scotland.”

Update:
It has since been announced that the Lib-Dems and Labour have also accepted the invitation.  Jeremy Purvis will represent the Lib-Dems and Iain Gray will represent Labour.  Margo MacDonald is unable to attend whilst the Green’s Patrick Harvie has yet to respond to the invite.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Minister for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford will represent the Scottish Government.  First Minister Alex Salmond is unable to attend due to a long-standing engagement in Spain that is believed to be linked to a significant jobs announcement relating to the Scottish renewable industry.