Following the Integrated Review, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has called on the UK government to guarantee that any future contracts for warships benefits Scotland’s shipyards – saying the Tories must not betray Scotland’s shipbuilding industry and vital national interests again.
The SNP has called for more vessels and the contracts to build them in Scotland for years – but has repeatedly been ignored by the Westminster government. Despite Scotland making up 60% of UK waters and hosting the vast majority of the UK’s marine natural resources, there is still no surface vessel base in the country – with North Atlantic security side-lined in favour of the much-trailed Indo-Pacific tilt.
Successive Westminster governments have consistently broken promises made to the Clyde yards on the Type 45 and Type 26 programmes, with big announcements followed later on by cuts to programmes. The Tory government has still not followed through on its 2014 commitment to build a £200 million frigate factory on the Clyde.
Despite these years of cuts to the conventional naval budget, spending on Trident has continued to increase. This week the UK government announced a 40% increase in the number of warheads.
Commenting, SNP MP and member of the Defence Committee, Martin Docherty-Hughes, said:
“With the Royal Navy at a historic low, I am urging the UK government to stop its obsession with nuclear and use the Integrated Review as an opportunity to finally live up to its basic obligations to North Atlantic security – by building world-class frigates in Scotland and ensuring Scotland’s shipbuilding industry benefits from them.
“Both Tory and Labour UK governments have made promise after promise to Scotland and its shipbuilding industry, but all of these now lie broken or forgotten – including the promises it made in the 2014 Independence Referendum on shipbuilding and building a frigate factory on the Clyde.
“The UK government has repeatedly set out their commitments to conventional forces, the Armed Forces Covenant, to European and North Atlantic security, and to long-term nuclear proliferation – but its actions contradict all of them.
“Instead of wasting money on increasing the stockpile of nuclear weapons the UK government must start matching capabilities to threats and stop neglecting real priorities. Under the UK Tory government Scotland is currently facing 9 military bases being cut, the size of the Army is due to be cut by 10,000, half of personnel are living in substandard accommodation and all have experienced a pay-freeze despite their heroic work in tackling COVID. This is a disgrace.
“It is clear that the Westminster government will never stand up for Scotland’s interests – they have only ever acted against them. Scottish taxpayers who contribute to the MoD’s budget expect their interests to be taken into account when spending decisions are made.
“It is clear that it is only with independence that we can protect Scotland’s interests, escape the Tories’ nuclear obsession and protect our shipbuilding industry – and that begins with Both Votes SNP at the elections in May.”