The future FSS contract for the manufacture of three Combat Approval Vessels (BAC) for the United Kingdom, in which Navantia departed as a favorite months ago, continues to stir up tensions within the framework of a Brexit without agreement. After weeks of protests by employers and unions of the British naval – fueled by the presumed closure of the historic Irish shipyard of Harland and Wolff -, the new Boris Johnson executive took the idea of nationalizing to gain support among the electorate of industrial areas little favorable to divorce with Brussels.
Thus, from the inauguration of the cabinet, the idea was extended that it was possible to make a change of legislation prior to the separation with Europe that would allow us to ignore community regulations. However, as the Scottish newspaper Evening Times published yesterday, the promises released from the Ministry of Defense seem to have been diluted in the midst of a hard Brexit crisis.
Lack of answers
The news came as a result of an appearance before the media of the parliamentarian Anne-Marie Trevelyan, of the Secretary of State for Defense. Trevelyan, a renowned Eurosceptic conservative – and a member of the European Research Group – was questioned about the now controversial contract during a recent visit to the steel cutting chain of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow.
As stated in the publication, the representative tried to avoid press questions up to three times, finally implying that the rant to change the legislation to nationalize the contest had remained nothing. After praising the British naval industry and predicting “a bright future,” journalists questioned whether it also referred to the FSS contest. "As we advance that requirement, it also advances, so we will review it from a commercial point of view over the coming weeks and months," he said, which led journalists to seek a more concrete response.
Trevelyan tried to dodge the awkward question up to two more times, focusing his response on the construction of Type-26 and Type-31 ships and their future implementation in the Canadian and Australian navies – both, contracts in which Navantia participated and that lost, presumably, by government pressures–; in the work of the workers of the Govan facilities or in the vision of the shipyards as part of the value chain of British industrial products.
Finally, at the insistence of the communication professionals, the representative said that from the Johnson executive they would study each case “as we face them”, asking journalists to “give him a few weeks to be able to browse through the piles of papers he has on the table ”.
One of the main problems that Boris Johnson faces when it comes to getting support in these areas is that many of them were in 2016 against divorce with Europe, especially in Scotland and Southern Ireland. Both regions, despite their structural problems in the field of industry – a point that conservatives tried to exploit without success – were positioned in favor of Europe for their own particularities, so the actions of the Prime Minister, who is willing to take a hard Brexit without contemplations, generate a high rejection among the population.
In the case of Scotland, the "betrayal" of leaving Europe after using permanence as a decisive point in his last referendum of independence, now adds the inability of the executive to generate workload in the area. Precisely, following these statements, Labor Representative Paul Sweeney said that the lack of "urgency" shown by Johnson's cabinet in the Scottish shipyard crisis was "alarming."
Motion of censure
In the midst of this naval crisis, the favorable scenario to which it seemed that the current Prime Minister would access after the fiasco in May's negotiations has completely blurred. The ruling in securing the FSS contract for British builders has further removed it from the Scottish nationalists – who continue to accuse conservatives of favoring Navantia to smooth negotiations over Gibraltar – which have initially aligned themselves with their main opponent. , Jeremy Corbyn, after his announcement that he would lead a motion of censure in late summer.
This scenario, however, is proving highly beneficial for the public naval group. While Johnson's executive faces the threat of an eviction, the claims to change the rules of the contest again to favor the "Team UK" or even skip European regulations have been completely parked, allowing him to focus on his candidacy.
Thus, as announced last Wednesday, Navantia will put all the meat on the grill in front of the DSEI fair – Defense & Security Equipment International – in September, where it will have both an interactive experience and a private event about the project.