POLITICS
07/11/2013 09:20 GMT | Updated 07/11/2013 09:23 GMT

An Independent Scotland 'Could Lose Royal Navy Shipbuilding Contracts'

Scotland could lose major Royal Navy shipbuilding contracts if it gains independence in next year's referendum, Cabinet ministers have warned.

Their warning came after BAE Systems announced it would cut 1,775 jobs as it closes down its shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth while protecting its operations in Glasgow.

However, Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael said it would be "difficult to see how the work would go to Scotland" if it gained independence. Meanwhile, defence secretary Philip 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."

Scottish deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon dismissed the ministers' comments as "preposterous", accusing them of wanting to see "people in Scotland should be somehow punished for voting yes".

TOP STORIES OF THE DAY

BAE Systems announced it would be axing 940 jobs in Portsmouth, bringing an end to an 800-year long era of English shipbuilding.

The defence giant's announcement will see a further 835 jobs lost in Glasgow, Rosyth and Filton.

BAE said: "Following detailed discussions about how best to sustain the long-term capability to deliver complex warships, BAE Systems has agreed with the UK Ministry of Defence that Glasgow would be the most effective location for the manufacture of the future Type 26 ships.

"Consequently, and subject to consultation with trade union representatives, the company proposes to consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow with investments in facilities to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 programme for the Royal Navy."

Frmer 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."

Tory MP for Gosport, Caroline Dinenage, whose constituency has many dockyard workers, said that local jobs had been "sacrificed" to Scotland.

Gary Cook, regional organiser of the GMB, said every single job loss in Portsmouth would be contested, 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."