Gazette column - 19/7/18

LET’S fly the flag for Britain and build three new ships for the Royal Navy here instead of abroad.

England’s success in the World Cup was sporting patriotism and I want a Government that backs Britain every day.

Instead the Conservatives have asked other countries if they want a £1 billion deal to build three Royal Navy fleet support vessels.

That’s crazy by the Tories and they can’t blame the European Union. It’s Conservative ideology that’s warped, selling out our country.

I’ll keep championing our local industry and last week I raised this hugely important issue in Parliament.    

Shipbuilding on Tyneside has a glorious history and will enjoy a prosperous future when we’ve a Government that believes in our people.

Shipyard workers in the North East share a proud tradition – building the best ships in the world.

The success of A&P Tyne in Hebburn, winning accolades for fantastic engineering in the Royal Navy’s new aircraft super-carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, is a jewel in our region’s manufacturing crown.

So I’m fighting tooth and nail to persuade the Tories to see sense and agree three Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships must be built in Britain with our region winning a share of the work.

The Ministry of Defence is wrong to invite tenders from companies overseas and Jeremy Corbyn’s absolutely right to demand British ships are built in Britain.

I’m proud to champion local industry because I know it is the best and I’m fighting for our area in Parliament.

The stakes are high when more than 6,500 workers could be employed in the £1 billion project, many of them up here.

By refusing to help our industry thrive, Tories continue the error of hollowing out and closing down British industry.

Over the course of the 1980s under the dreadful Conservatives we saw 75,000 jobs lost in shipyards across the UK.

Here in South Tyneside and further afield we pay our taxes so it is vital that we see our fair share of precious Government contracts.

Shipbuilding isn’t a sinking industry, a rusting relic, and this Jarra lad sees a bright future if we’re given the chance we deserve.

The last Defence Secretary was justifiably impressed when I took him to A&P Tyne.

We need, of course, a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn to secure that bright future.

Jeremy knows what needs to be done to secure and revive our shipbuilding industry unlike listless Theresa May, badly holed under the waterline and it’s only a matter of time before she capsizes.

Corbyn loves the North East as he’s proved by visiting Jarrow twice and last weekend he was again the star of the show at the brilliant Durham Miners’ Gala. 

My heart swelled with pride at the sight of the local pit banners paraded through the streets of the medieval city.

Coal mining might be gone but the community spirit burns bright and we remember the past to build the future.

The Tories must never be allowed to do to shipbuilding what they did to coal mining, chucking grafters on the scrapheap.

So let’s unite and fight to have British ships built in Britain.

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Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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