The SNP have condemned the latest scaremongering by Westminster politicians over the future prospects of Scottish shipyards.
The repeat claims that an independent Scotland would be unable to sustain its shipbuilding industry were made by the UK’s Defence Minister Phillip Dunne.
SNP Industry Spokesperson Mike Weir MP said:
“These are the same old scare stories from the same Westminster politicians who are, right now, cutting Scottish defence jobs, bases and capabilities.
“Only recently the Defence Secretary admitted to an audience in Portsmouth that job losses in shipbuilding as part of the UK were ‘inevitable’ – and he actually refused to reject speculation that the Type 26 frigates could be constructed in Scotland! The anti-independence parties are treating people like fools, telling workers in Portsmouth one thing and Scotland another.
“Claims that the MoD wouldn’t award contracts for military vessels overseas ignore the fact that a South Korean firm has been awarded the contract to build the Navy’s next MARS fleet tanker.
“In reality, shipbuilders across Europe – including in Scotland – regularly get orders from other countries. France makes ships for Russia, and the UK has made frigates for Malaysia.”
Mr Weir added:
“With independence, Scotland would have a healthy order book. It is not the London government that makes the yards successful – it is the second-to-none Scottish skills base and technical expertise that brings orders to the yards, and that will continue under independence. In reality, and in all circumstances, Scottish yards will secure orders from around the world on the basis of their skills and formidable record of delivery.
“As the SNP confirmed at our conference this weekend, with independence, Scotland will dump the expensive and obscene Trident nuclear weapons, and invest in professional, conventional forces.
“A conference in Edinburgh recently suggested that a Scottish Navy would have about 20-25 ships and vessels, including frigates, offshore patrol vessels, minesweepers and various other miscellaneous assets – so independence will bring many opportunities for our shipbuilding sector. Meanwhile, independent Norway, which has similar defence needs has over 70 vessels.
“It is clear that far from Scotland benefiting from a defence dividend with the Union, we have in fact been victim of a defence downturn. The disastrous decisions made for Scotland by Westminster demonstrate the modern benefits and opportunities offered by independence.
“The most of childish part of this latest attack is criticising SNP MPs who were prevented from being in the Commons because of being stuck in fog bound airports – another downside of having a parliament with powers over Scotland 500 miles away in London.”