FMQs: shipbuilding jobs loss would be “betrayal”

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ALEX Salmond has today written to David Cameron demanding assurances over the future of thousands of Scottish shipbuilding jobs after claims that a key warship deal could instead go to France.

The outgoing SNP leader faced his final First Ministers Questions session at Holyrood amid opposition claims of a “legacy of failure” in Scotland.

BAE's yard at Govan. Picture: TSPL

BAE's yard at Govan. Picture: TSPL

But Mr Salmond signed off with a warning that Labour is “destined to destruction” in Scotland over its alliance with the Conservatives in the independence campaign.

The First Minister warned that the head of the Navy’s claims that its next fleet of frigates could be built in France would be a “betrayal” of referendum promises.

UK Ministers indicated that the deal to build 13 Type 26 frigates would be go to BAe on the Clyde in the event of a referendum No vote - but Admiral George Zambellas, the First Sea Lord, warned yesterday the deal could go to France.

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“I do intend to send another letter to the Prime Minister today asking him exactly to explain the remarks of the head of the Navy, General Zambellas, who seemed to cast doubt on whether the contracts for the global ships are going to be awarded to the Clyde yards,” Mr Salmond told MSPs today.

“These remarks are deeply troubling. They come not from some functionary in the Ministry of Defence, but the head of the Navy and this Parliament will ensure that the commitments and promises that have been made are honoured to the Clyde workers.”

But Tory leader Ruth Davidson played down the influence of the head of the Navy.

“Admirals don’t awards contract, the MoD awards contracts,” she said.

But the First Minister suggested that the Ms Davidson was “over-relaxed” in her approach and insisted that the head of the Navy would be in a “good position to know the state of the negotiations” with the shipyard chiefs at BAe.

Jobs

If the contract was lost there would be an “impact of thousands of jobs,” Mr Salmond said.

He added: “More than this, it would be a total and absolute and complete betrayal.”

“This Parliament with a resonant voice should say it would totally unacceptable for these orders not to come to the Clyde yards.”

But Mr Salmond, who was undertaking his 215th appearance at FMQs came under fire from Labour’s Jackie Baillie

“We know the First Minister was passionate about independence,” she said.

“The tragedy is that he was so blinkered by that passion that Government actions to tackle poverty, reduce inequality and deliver social justice were pushed into second place.

“His legacy as First Minister will be his failure to use the powers at his disposal to make Scotland a better place.”

Mr Salmond warned that Labour’s fall in the polls since the referendum is because Scots no longer know what the party stands for.

But he added: “They do know who they stood with in the referendum campaign.

“And any political party in alliance with the Tory party is destined to destruction in Scotland and that is exactly what’s happening to the `branch office’ of the Scottish party.”

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