The UK Government has been accused of treating Scottish dockyard workers with contempt after rumours resurfaced that a multi-billion pound aircraft carrier being built at Rosyth will be sold or mothballed.
HMS Prince of Wales is yet to undergo sea trials and sources close to the Treasury have again suggested the super Queen Elizabeth-class carrier could be put into storage or sold to the highest bidder when it is formally handed over to the Royal Navy at the end of 2019.
The speculation comes amid fears Spain is on the cusp of landing a £1 billion deal to build three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships required to support the HMS Prince of Wales and its sister carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth with their international duties.
The UK Government has denied the rumours but local MP and the SNP’s defence procurement spokesperson Douglas Chapman says the heightened uncertainty has done nothing to ease the concerns of workers in Rosyth and on the Clyde.
“This Government at Westminster moves between farce and tragedy almost by the hour, and clearly goes way beyond the current Brexit shambles,” he said.
“Every day we learn of a lack of personnel across all three services, poor recruitment practises and outcomes and a military budget that’s skewed by the UK’s obsession with nulcear weapons.
“The Ministry of Defence is fast becoming an embarrassing basket case and they are not winning the case with HM Treasury. Tory party infighting over budgets is not helping.
“Sadly someone’s carrying the brunt of poor decision making, lack of funds and joined up planning and it’s those workers on the Clyde who were told that 13 ships were in the Unionist pipeline in 2014.
“Bearing the brunt are also the workforce at Rosyth who watch as the UK Government presses the case for naval support ships being build abroad, when they could be built in Rosyth.
“All that before we even begin to consider the training, equipment provision and safety of those serving on the front line and the lack of support they and their families receive both when in service and when they leave after years of dedicated commitment to the country.”
Fears have previously been raised the HMS Prince of Wales would be set aside in a bid to plug a massive shortfall in the Ministry of Defence’s budget.
Mr Chapman said: “These carriers, well built in Rosyth, should be used as a great example of Scottish engineering and the workforce here in Fife should be rewarded for their engineering prowess, instead we’re seeing a continual stream of job losses and the UK treating them with contempt.”
Armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said: “There are no plans in place to mothball HMS Prince of Wales.
“If I spent my time debunking every rumour that surfaces on a weekly basis I’d have little chance to do anything else.”