Yeovil Helicopter jobs – 9 January 2017

Commenting this afternoon on the MoD announcement of “new orders” for the Wildcat helicopter, Paddy Ashdown said:

“I am grateful to Minister Baldwin for making the journey from London to make this announcement. Of course any and every new order is welcome, especially in the difficult post-Brexit climate. But unfortunately these are not new orders. They are recycled news from the time of the Coalition. As the MoD themselves admit in their Press Release, this announcement merely enacts the detail of the deal negotiated by David Laws in 2012.

The issue for the Government is not, will they recycle old jobs as new ones, but will they use the leverage they have through the ownership of Wildcat tooling and jigs to stop Yeovil losing jobs which will otherwise go to Poland in order preserve not just the long term viability of the Yeovil site, but also a key element of the national aerospace industrial base.?

Of course the decision of where this work goes must be made commercially. But the Government can and should demand that any Leonardo decision which affects UK jobs is based on a proper in depth study of the comparative costs of manufacturing these Wildcat parts in Yeovil and Poland. I do not understand why they will not insist on this.

The Government’s unwillingness to use the leverage they have to go every last mile to protect Yeovil jobs, makes their promise to protect UK jobs in the post-Brexit era, mere empty words. I hope they will change their mind on this before these jobs and skills are exported abroad. Yeovil’s technicians and engineers have, for a hundred years, provided world beating aircraft for our armed forces. They deserve better than this.”