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BAE Systems would be offered greater certainty over its business if Scotland stayed in the UK, the company said, after it won a £348m contract to build Royal Navy ships at its Glasgow shipyards.
It is to build three offshore patrol vessels for use in counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations, work which will provide 800 jobs in Scotland.
“The decision on independence from the UK is a matter for the people of Scotland. However, BAE Systems has significant interests and employees in Scotland and it is clear that the continued union offers greater certainty and stability for our business,” a spokeswoman said.
“In the event that Scotland voted to become independent, we would need to discuss the way forward with the MoD and the UK government and work with them to deliver the best solution in those circumstances.”
It follows the company’s decision last year to close its shipbuilding yard at Portsmouth to focus instead on its Govan and Scotstoun yards on the Clyde. Roger Carr, chairman, has previously said he did not think Britain would continue to build warships in Scotland if it was not part of the UK.
Europe’s largest defence company is the latest in the sector to strike a cautious note over the implications to its business if Scotland votes next month to leave the UK.
Defence contractor Thales, which employs hundreds of staff at its Glasgow base, warned last month that its business would probably become more difficult in the case of an independent Scotland.
Babcock, which owns the Rosyth dockyard in Fife, has cautioned that independence would create uncertainty and adversely affect it, while unions have warned that a Yes vote would spell the end of the shipbuilding industry in Scotland.
Michael Fallon, defence secretary, said: “UK warships are only built in UK shipyards. This sort of investment by the UK government is vital for the sustainment of shipbuilding in the city and the hundreds of specialist manufacturing and engineering roles that play an important role in providing war-fighting capability for the Royal Navy.”
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