09 Mar 2013By Angela Monaghan - telegraph.co.uk
The defence minister, Philip Dunne, has revealed that the Government is still locked in talks with BAE Systems over the future of British shipbuilding and issued a veiled threat about the implications of Scottish independence.
The minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said BAE had submitted plans for its shipyards but no decision had been taken on potential closures.
“The company has made some proposals and they’re being considered by the MoD but it is ultimately their decision and we’re right in the middle of discussion,” he said.
BAE has warned that it might have to stop shipbuilding at one of its sites, with the spotlight on Portsmouth and its two yards in Glasgow, at Govan and Scotstoun.
The decision hinges on future work available, with a gap in the British building programme expected once the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are completed but be-fore the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme begins.
The assumption is that under current plans there will be insufficient work to sustain all three shipyards, and there has been speculation that the Type 26 work will go to the Glasgow yards, prompting the end of shipbuilding at Portsmouth and loss of up to 1,500 jobs.
Mr Dunne would not be drawn on specific proposals for the shipyards, but on the question of a Scottish referendum on independence he noted that the Government did not have a history of buying its warships outside Britain.
“The MoD as is the rest of the Government is working on the basis that Scottish people will not support an independence referendum so we’re assuming that Scotland remains part of the UK.