Scottish independence: The chief executive of BAE Ian King has given the strongest indication yet that shipyards on the Clyde would close if Scotland votes for independence.
The future of the shipyards is believed to be linked to the Ministry of Defence’s contracts for the new Type 26 frigates and Mr King has said BAE would build the ships where the customer requires.
No British warships have been built in a foreign shipyard outside war time and while the Clyde is set to receive the contracts if Scotland stays in the UK BAE may revert back to Portsmouth, which is to be shut down, if Scotland becomes independent.
In a letter to Labour chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Ian Davidson, Mr King said that, “the major investment decision – known as Main Gate - will be made by MoD at the end of this year” after the referendum on 18 September.
As to location, Mr King said that, “in the event of a Yes vote, and as we have made clear, we would be required to discuss the future of the Type 26 programme with our customer, the MoD.
“It would be for the MoD to determine how the vote affects the final decisions they have yet to make on the programme, including the future location of the build of the ships. We would take our customer’s lead in these circumstances. We cannot determine this outcome in advance, or without the direction of the MoD.”
Mr Davidson said: “This shows clearly that, as we have previously stated, the only guarantee for the future of shipbuilding on the Clyde is for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.”
However, the claim was dismissed by a spokesman for SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who insisted the new ships would be built in an independent Scotland while pointing out that under current plans one of the Clyde’s two yards - Govan - may close anyway.
He said: “The threat to Govan and its possible closure is happening now under Westminster rule, and the fact is there will be nowhere else on these shores but the Clyde to build these ships once Portsmouth closes its shipbuilding facilities.”