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Spanish companies among overseas shipyards eyeing £1bn UK order for military vessels, union says

Overseas shipyards including some in Spain are "eyeing up" a £1 billion order for three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, a UK union claims.

The GMB said the UK Government should reverse a decision to put the contract out to international tender later this month.

Shipbuilding companies in Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, South Korea and Spain attended a recent Ministry of Defence industry day on the order, according to documents the union said it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Up to 6,700 jobs could be created or secured in the UK if the order went to a domestic shipbuilder, while up to 4,700 could be secured in supply chain companies, said the GMB.

National officer Ross Murdoch, said: "The Government looks set to repeat the blue passports fiasco by putting another order of national significance out to tender abroad.”

"Ministers are not bound by normal EU rules on competitive tendering when it comes to military ships. There really can be no excuse for sending our shipbuilding contracts overseas.”

"We have a highly skilled shipbuilding workforce in the UK that is more than capable of making these ships at a fair market price. We face being sold down the river if the work goes to artificially subsidised international competitor shipyards instead.”

"At a time when global tensions are rising, the Government should use this order to 'buy for Britain' and rebuild our defence shipbuilding manufacturing capabilities.”

"Shipbuilding workers are disillusioned by orders flowing overseas while highly skilled jobs at UK shipyards are being cut.”

"It would be a gross betrayal of the spirit of the 'red, white and blue Brexit' that Theresa May promised if this crucial contract is awarded outside of the UK and jobs here are lost as a result."

An MoD spokesman said: "All our warships are built in the UK and with the Type 26 frigates securing 4,000 Scottish jobs and 20 years of work on the Clyde, and industry preparing to bid for the new Type 31e class, we are witnessing a renaissance in British shipbuilding.”

"We are launching a competition for three new Fleet Solid Support ships this year and strongly encourage British yards to take part."

Main photo shows an RFA vessel in Gibraltar.

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