Scotland

Scottish independence: Young shipbuilders express 'Yes' vote concerns

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Media captionYes vote 'could cost hundreds' of shipyard jobs

A group of young shipbuilders have said they are "gravely concerned" about the future of the industry if Scotland becomes independent.

The letter to First Minister Alex Salmond was signed by 20 workers.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and former Defence Secretary John Reid received the letter as they met workers at BAE Systems in Glasgow on Tuesday.

In response, SNP MSP Sandra White said Scottish yards were best placed to deliver new ships.

She also said joint procurement was in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

In the letter, the shipyard workers said: "Based on the most recent SNP forecasts of likely defence spending and naval procurement in an independent Scotland, there would be an insufficient domestic demand for naval vessels to sustain anywhere near the current shipbuilding capacity on the Clyde.

"There has been no credible industrial strategy presented for the continuation of the Scottish shipbuilding industry post-independence by the Scottish government.

"The assertion made that current Scottish shipbuilding capacity could be sustained in the absence of UK naval contracts by diversifying into commercial alternatives is considered by us to be extraordinarily simplistic and fanciful in its assessment of the commercial market."

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Ms Lamont was also joined by Labour's shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran and deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

She said she would personally deliver the letter to Mr Salmond if he did not meet the workers.

She added: "For the length of this campaign, Alex Salmond has refused to meet them to discuss their future, despite the warnings that independence would put their jobs at risk.

"With only a few days until people across Scotland vote, Alex Salmond should come here to the Clyde - as we have done this morning - and tell these men and women what will happen to their jobs."

Lord Reid said: "Instead of the risk to jobs of separation, people across Scotland can have faster, better, safer change with more powers for the Scottish Parliament guaranteed, backed up by the strength and security of the United Kingdom."

But Ms White said: "The Deputy First Minister, Finance Secretary John Swinney and Veterans Minister Keith Brown, as well as civil servants, have all met with the shipbuilding unions over the last year, both on the subject of independence and on the current process of redundancies being undertaken by BAE systems and the UK Government.

She added: "Scottish yards are the best place to produce the Type 26 ships - and given that shipbuilding is to cease at Portsmouth this year, realistically Scotland is the only place.

"Quite simply, these vessels should be built in the Clyde yards as it offers the best quality and value for money. Joint procurement is something that is in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK, going elsewhere would leave UK taxpayers with a huge additional bill."

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