Shipyards jobs axe: an Independent Scotland 'could lose key Royal Navy contracts'

Forecast from Cabinet ministers follows announcement that protected Glasgow shipbuilding jobs while scrapping them in Portsmouth

Deputy Political Editor

Scotland could lose key contracts to build new Royal Navy ships if it votes in favour of independence in next year's referendum, Cabinet ministers forecast today.

Their warning came after the Government announced it was protecting shipbuilding jobs in Glasgow while scrapping them in Portsmouth.

The decision left David Cameron facing accusations from MPs of all parties of being motivated by shoring up the "no" vote in Scotland at the expense of jobs in England.

But Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, and Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, signalled that today's announcement could be reversed if the Scots opted to leave the United Kingdom.

Mr Hammond said: "The UK has always built complex warships in the United Kingdom so that it has sovereign control over the operation of those contracts."

Mr Carmichael told the Commons it would be "difficult to see how the work would go to Scotland" if it was independent.

MPs from the south of England reacted furiously after the defence giant BAE Systems said shipbuilding would end at Portsmouth in mid-2014 with the loss of 940 skilled jobs.

It will continue in two BAE shipyards on the Clyde, where three new Type 26 Royal Navy warships are to be built, although the Scottish yards will also suffer some redundancies.

The decision was taken against the backdrop of polls indicating a comfortable majority in Scotland among opponents of independence.

There were suspicions that ministers feared a move to end shipbuilding on the Clyde would have played into the hands of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr Cameron's official spokesman refused to deny the independence referendum had been a factor in safeguarding Scottish shipbuilding. He argued the decision had been taken in the "national interest".

Mike Hancock, the independent MP for Portsmouth South, said the move had "undoubtedly" had been affected by the impending referendum.

"I think the people of Portsmouth are going to be paying a very heavy price for, I think, a slightly cynical manoeuvre and I'm disappointed at that," he said.

* Ian Burrell on Portsmouth hometown: Scuttling of 800-year-old institution is shameful  

The former Labour cabinet minister John Denham, a Southampton MP, said: "Many on the south coast feel they have been sold down the river by a government whose interest and attention has been elsewhere."

The Conservative MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage, whose constituency is home to many dockyard workers, protested that jobs in Hampshire had been "sacrificed" to Scotland.

The announcement also left the Government struggling to explain what might happen to naval contracts awarded to the Clyde if Scots vote on September 18 to leave the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister's spokesman insisted he was confident that would not happen and would not be drawn on whether shipbuilding would return to Portsmouth in the event of a "yes" vote.

But the warning by Mr Carmichael that Glasgow could lose the naval contract was attacked as "absurd" by the Scottish National Party.

Angus Robertson, its defence spokesman, said: "It is plain daft for a UK Government minister to say it would be difficult to have ships built in Scotland just because we exercise our democratic right to vote Yes, when the Ministry of Defence has procured vessels from Korea."

Vernon Coaker, the shadow Defence Secretary, said: "We need clarity from the Government about what safeguards are in place to meet all eventualities after next year's referendum."

In a statement to MPs, Mr Hammond said every effort would be made to redeploy workers, and compulsory redundancies would be kept to a minimum.

He said more than £100m will be invested in Portsmouth's naval base so it can accommodate new warships in its maintenance role. But he acknowledged: "The loss of a shipmaking capability will be a harsh blow to Portsmouth."

BAE said it remained committed to continued investment in Portsmouth as the centre of its maritime services and high-end naval equipment and combat systems businesses, adding it was being hit by a "significant" reduction in workload following the peak of activity on the aircraft carrier programme.

Gary Cook, regional organiser of the GMB, said every single job loss in Portsmouth will be opposed, adding: "The contempt shown to the workers by BAE and the Tory coalition by leaking stories to the media before the affected employees were informed, is nothing short of a stab in the back and a national disgrace.

"If the Government wants their second aircraft carrier, a large proportion of which still sits in the build facility at Portsmouth, they're going to need to talk to us about how we preserve jobs and protect the livelihoods of hundreds of people."

he announcement was attacked as a politically motivated "act of lunacy" by Portsmouth Conservative councillor Alistair Thompson, who said: "This is devastating for the workers and their families but also for all those people involved in the supply chain that keeps the dockyard working.

"Many of those who I represent as a councillor are hugely concerned that this decision has been taken for political reasons because of the referendum in Scotland next year.

* Ian Burrell on Portsmouth hometown: Scuttling of 800-year-old institution is shameful  

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam