David Cameron: Clyde ships will revive UK

BAE's Govan yard. Picture: Donald MacLeod
BAE's Govan yard. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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DAVID Cameron yesterday pledged that Scotland would produce the world’s most skilled ship-builders as he announced a £859 million investment in the Clyde.

The Prime Minister said the cash to build the next generation of Royal Navy frigates would help put Britain back in business in a rallying speech to Scottish activists ahead of the general election.

Arguing that only the Conservatives could get Britain “back in the black”, Mr Cameron warned against the “horror movie” scenario of letting Alex Salmond back into Westminster.

In a speech that banged the drum for Britishness, Mr Cameron said a vote for the SNP would put Ed Miliband into government.

He said that SNP and Labour were already planning to work together, saying that they were “halfway up the aisle” and had booked the honeymoon – “probably to North Korea”.

Addressing Tory members at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Mr Cameron described Labour as “spineless”, “weak” and “unprincipled” for refusing to rule out working with the SNP.

The Prime Minister accused his opponents of “bleating on” about austerity but said the UK government had spent £36 billion on servicing the interest on “Labour’s debt”.

Pointing out that the sum would have paid for three years of the NHS in Scotland, Mr Cameron warned that: “If we don’t grip these debts, they will grip us”.

Mr Cameron said his announcement that the cash invested in building the new Type 26 warship on the Clyde would sustain 1,700 jobs across the UK. Of those, 600 would be safeguarded in Scotland. The Type 26 warships will replace Type 23 vessels with around 13 expected to be built by BAE Systems for service in the early 2020s.

“Think what we are talking about here,” Mr Cameron said. “We’re not just building the most advance modern warships in the world, to combat piracy in Somalia or drug trafficking in the Caribbean or to patrol the North Atlantic and keep us safe.

“There’s going to a whole load of young people whose careers are built along with these ships, who’ll do apprenticeships on the Clyde that set them up for life. There are children in schools in Scotland today who will be working on this project for the next 30 years, becoming the most skilled ship-builders in the world.”

Mr Cameron’s announcement confirmed the UK government’s commitment to building the Type 26 vessels in Scotland following uncertainty about their future.

In in an interview in a US defence magazine published in November last year, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, suggested the frigates could be built abroad.

After visiting the Govan shipyard, Mr Cameron travelled to Edinburgh for the Scottish Tories’ annual conference.

The Prime Minister used his speech to attack the possibility of a Labour/SNP deal to secure power at Westminster after the election. “If you thought the ultimate nightmare scenario was a Labour government, try this: Labour and the SNP in government,” Mr Cameron said.

“A unique, unprecedented coalition of the people who would break up our country and the people who would bankrupt our country.”

He argued that voting for anyone other than the Tories risked an unstable minority Ed Miliband government. “A vote for the SNP is a vote for Labour in government,” Mr Cameron said.

“Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she is up for a coalition with Ed Miliband… the SNP and Labour are half way up the aisle together already… They’ve picked out the wedding list. They’ve booked the honeymoon – probably to North Korea.”

A Labour government would open the door to the “very real prospect of Alex Salmond coming in through the back door. Like a horror movie – he’s back”.

Mr Cameron also cast his mind back to the referendum and thanked activists who had leafleted, campaigned and canvassed to remain in the United Kingdom.

He said Britain was powerful example of how people of different faiths and nationalities could live together.

“None of us are just English, or Scottish or Welsh. Or a Londoner or a Glaswegian, or West Indian or Asian. We are all British too.”

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