Johnny’s latest press coverage

Exclusive: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on why Plymouth has a bright future under Tory leadership

April 22, 20240

There has been a lot of talk recently from the Labour Party about what they would do for Plymouth and, frankly, they are once again selling Britain’s Ocean city short, write Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer, in a joint column.


Since we have had a Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, our ambition for the area has been boundless. Don’t just take our word for it, look at what we have done. We pledged to expand Devonport Dockyard for the first time in a generation.


Labour laughed at this and labelled it impossible, but we understood the importance of Devonport to Plymouth’s identity and what a thriving dockyard would mean for the future of the city.


HMNB Devonport, the largest naval base in western Europe, is the jewel in Plymouth’s crown. Occupying 650 acres, the dockyard hugs the west of Plymouth with 15 dry docks, four miles of waterfront, 25 tidal berths and five basins. Since 1691, it has formed the backdrop to the city’s rich seafaring history. Surviving the Plymouth Blitz and, in more recent history, an uncertain economic future and hungry land developers, it has proved incredibly resilient.


Back in 2013, Devonport’s future was in jeopardy. After years of neglect, the Office for Nuclear Regulation placed it under special measures. Local politicians had failed to address serious safety concerns on ageing facilities, stretched resources, and increasing demand but, in 2015, we drew a line in the sand and stopped this decline.


Plymouth won the contract to port-base the new Clyde-built Type 26 frigates at the dockyard. We would not take no for an answer or, as proud champions of Plymouth, let the naysayers continue to talk down this city’s chances.


Now, the Type 26 will replace the eight current Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigates based at Devonport, ensuring that a strong naval presence remains at the dockyard.


The first three Type 26 ships will enter service before 2030, followed by a further five, providing a strong deterrent against Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic. Undertaking three core roles – warfighting, maritime security, and international engagement – they will be the “workhorse” of the Royal Navy fleet.


Yet again, Plymouth’s Labour sell-outs – who are all too happy to put down Britain’s Ocean City – have been proven wrong. Devonport is also the Royal Navy’s main site for nuclear submarine maintenance.


Last November, Babcock signed a £750 million contract with the MoD’s Submarine Delivery Agency to deliver future submarine capability, and we worked closely with them to ensure the investment went to Plymouth, not elsewhere.


The programme will safeguard telecommunication cables and pipelines and draw an additional 1,000 jobs into the city. Furthermore, the Government’s £2 billion overhaul of Devonport’s facilities, which includes Kier BAM Joint Venture’s refurbishment of 10 Dock, will help to fix prolonged infrastructure issues and ensure that our nuclear deterrent is not compromised.


Devonport’s contribution to Plymouth and the wider South West’s local economy cannot be overstated, employing 2,500 service personnel and civilians, supporting roughly 400 local businesses, and generating around 10% of the city’s income.


The Type 26 frigate and £750 million submarine contract are huge wins for the city, helping to secure the dockyard for another generation of Plymothians. Labour can’t say what they would do with this iconic dockyard – or our country – because they don’t have a plan. Their only strategy is to snipe from the sidelines rather than to offer a positive vision.


Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claims he is strong on defence. This is the same man who campaigned twice to see Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister – a man who toyed with scrapping Nato and our nuclear deterrent.


All of this just goes to show that the Labour Party will take us back to square one. Only the Conservatives are willing to take the difficult decisions that will deliver a brighter future and renewed pride in both Plymouth and our great country.

Luke Jones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Would you like to receive our email newsletter?

Johnny sends out regular newsletters keeping his constituents abreast of his most recent work. Get yours, delivered free, straight to your inbox.

Johnny Mercer logo
Promoted by Cara Dyer on behalf of Johnny Mercer.
01752 876979
2d Pemros Road, St Budeaux, Plymouth, PL5 1ND
Follow me
View our privacy and cookie policies