Labour will back the end of shipbuilding in Portsmouth if the detail reveals it to be the best move for Britain, the shadow Defence Secretary confirmed today.
Responding to Philip Hammond's statement to MPs on the announcement of BAE System's decision to axe 1,775 jobs across its naval ships business, Vernon Coaker said his party would take time to review the "complicated and details matters" behind the decisions.
Mr Hammond had confirmed the details of the job losses to MPs, insisting it was "inevitable" changes would have to be made to the numbers of ship builders when the £6 billion programme to build two new aircraft carriers came to an end.
Mr Coaker said: "When the Government does the right thing on defence, especially where difficult decisions need to be taken, they will have the support of Labour.
"We always say and do what we believe is in the interests of Britain and its people. These are complicated and detailed matters and it will take some time to fully examine the consequences of today's announcements by BAE Systems and the Government."
He added: "My first thoughts are with the employees who are facing job losses today, their families and the communities they live.
"Britain's shipbuilders are the best in the world - they have proven that over decades and even centuries and this is a difficult day for all of those who take pride in our maritime prowess and history of our nation."
In his statement, Mr Hammond said: "This morning BAE Systems announced plans to rationalise their shipbuilding business as the surge of work associated with the carriers comes to an end.
"Regrettably that will mean 835 job losses across Filton, the Clyde and Forsyth, and the closure of the company's shipbuilding yard in Portsmouth.
"The loss of such a significant number of jobs is of course regrettable but was always going to be inevitable as the work load associated with the carrier build comes to an end.
"I want to pay tribute to the men and women on the Clyde and in Portsmouth who have contributed so much to the construction of the Royal Navy's warships, including of course the Queen Elizabeth class carriers."
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