Ships pledge

‘No threat’ to leave Rosyth says Babcock executive

Core business: Rosyth

A Babcock executive has dismissed any suggestion that the company would quit Scotland in the event of its becoming independent.

The defence giant’s chief corporate affairs officer John Howie told MPs there was no likelihood of the company leaving Rosyth.

He was responding to questions from the Scottish Affairs Committee about comments made last week by Babcock CEO David Lockwood.

During a visit to Rosyth by the Prime Minister, Mr Lockwood said the company could move to England if it was not made welcome in Scotland. He said such a move, though not ideal, would be “manageable”.

Following his remarks, SNP MPs issued reassurances to defence companies that they would continue to play a vital role in the Scottish economy should the country separate from the UK.

John Howie: Rosyth is a core part of our strategy

Speaking to MPs today Mr Howie said: “Nobody has told us we would not be welcome. The fact is we have invested £76m in the site at Rosyth as a core part of our business strategy.

“Shareholders worry about what constitutional changes mean for business continuity. The reality is that business can operate from wherever it needs to, but we would not have invested that money if we were expecting to make changes to it.”

Oliver Waghorn, managing director of government relations at BAE Systems, told the committee he was “very confident” that all eight Type 26 frigates will be built in Scotland.

“The support we get from government absolutely first class from the Prime Minister down,” he said.

Asked about the company’s confidence that five contracts for frigates will be signed, Mr Waghorn said: “Very confident. It is going to be an eight ship programme. The first three are in-build and we are talking about the second batch of five.

“We are already investing in long lead items for that second batch.”

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