Michael Fallon accuses SNP of hypocrisy over frigates

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has accused the SNP of hypocrisy for demanding action when it comes to building the Type 26 frigates that are to be constructed on the Clyde.

The UK government promised in 2014 that the Type 26 frigates would be built on the Clyde. Picture: Contributed

Ahead of a visit north of the Border, Mr Fallon said the eight new Royal Navy warships were examples of increased defence role that is to be taken in Scotland by the UK government.

The Type-26 ships have been at the centre of controversy, with trades unions expressing concern that a date has not been set for the start of their construction.

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The delay to the work has also seen the SNP express concern that the UK government is back-tracking on its pre-referendum promise that a No vote would secure shipbuilding jobs.

Yesterday Mr Fallon said a start date had yet to be announced because the Ministry of Defence was still negotiating the contract with shipbuilders BAE Systems.

The Defence Secretary said: “We are still negotiating the contract. You will recall in the past that ships and submarines have been delivered late and over budget.

“I am determined this time to tie BAE Systems down to a contract that’s good value for the taxpayer and absolutely delivers the ships on the date we need them. That negotiation is still going on and as soon as it is finished we will announce the date.”

He then argued that the SNP’s anti-Trident stance meant their criticisms of the delay to the project were hypocritical. A key role of the Type 26 frigates will be to protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Speaking before he visits the military installation at Leuchars in Fife, Mr Fallon said: “The eight anti-submarine frigates are to protect the deterrent, it is a little hypocritical of the SNP to urge us to advance a date for protecting a deterrent they voted against.”

A SNP spokesman said: “This is a pathetic attempt by Michael Fallon to deflect attention from his government’s utter failure to live up to their promises made to workers on the Clyde. The continued delay is an utter betrayal of those workers and the communities that depend on the work.”