Nicola Sturgeon insisted an independent Scotland would still build warships (Image: PA/Getty)
NICOLA Sturgeon insisted that a Scotland is said to have ‘naval capabilities’ supporting the nation’s shipbuilding industry as she accused Douglas Ross of being ‘afraid’ to debate the constitution.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Conservative leader warned ‘the independence movement is sinking’ as he praised the UK government after it announced five more frigates would be built on the Clyde.
The British government has announced plans to build five Type 26 frigates, at a cost of £4.2 billion, in Scotland following a contract with BAE Systems.
Mr Ross said the ships are ‘only possible because we are part of the UK’.
Speaking to the SNP, he added: ‘An investment of this magnitude in engineering and manufacturing jobs would not be possible if they were successful.
“If the Nationalists ever managed to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK, those Royal Navy ships would almost certainly be built elsewhere and highly skilled Scottish jobs would be lost.”
The Conservative leader highlighted comments from Professor Keith Hartley, an economics and defense expert who has advised the United Nations.
Professor Hartley claimed that he ‘sees no future for a Scottish warship building industry in an independent Scotland’.
But the Prime Minister insisted an independent Scotland would retain a thriving shipbuilding sector and have a navy as a NATO member.
She said: ‘I believe the expertise and skill of our shipbuilders on the River Clyde are world to classify.
“I believe they would compete successfully for the job across the world, whatever the constitutional future of Scotland.
“An independent Scotland, like independent countries around the world and an independent Scotland as a full member of NATO, would have its own naval capabilities – capabilities that can and would be served and enhanced by our shipbuilding industry world-renowned and competent.”
But Mr Ross asked who the public should believe, either ‘a prime minister who can’t build a single ferry for £250million, or a defense expert who has advised the United Nations’.
He added: “The independence movement is sinking – it is absolutely sinking.
“She goes up the creek of separation without a paddle.
“We know there wouldn’t be any great ships built if he were successful.
“Its own appalling record of failing to build essential ferries for Scotland’s island communities.
“The British Government delivered seven ships here to Scotland during his time as Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister stressed that the first new ship will now only enter service in 2018, “eight years after the proposed date”.
She added: “The original 2010 proposal was not for five new ships, but rather 13 new ships.
“Let’s welcome it but don’t rewrite history in the process.