Sunak to announce ‘next generation’ of UK nuclear as he visits submarine shipyard in Barrow

Sunak to announce ‘next generation’ of UK nuclear as he visits submarine shipyard in Barrow
  • PublishedMarch 26, 2024

Rishi Sunak’s visit comes amid concerns the UK isn’t spending enough on defence – with no new money pledged in the budget. He says new investment will secure Britain’s nuclear deterrent and lower energy costs through nuclear power.

The prime minister will herald the “next generation” in the UK’s nuclear industry as he unveils new investment to create jobs and boost skills.

Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria will get £20m of public money to start with and £180m a year over the next decade.

The town is where four new Dreadnought-class submarines – designed to carry Trident nuclear missiles – are being built.

It’s also home to the Royal Navy‘s Astute-class subs.

Firms such as BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, EDF and Babcock will also invest about £763m in the area – and Downing Street hopes it will create about 8,000 career opportunities.

Rolls-Royce Submarines boss Steve Carlier said it showed the UK is “going to go even further in its mission to meet the growing demand for nuclear expertise”.

Mr Sunak, who will visit Barrow on Monday, said the investment would also help cut household energy bills by boosting nuclear power.

“Safeguarding the future of our nuclear deterrent and nuclear energy industry is a critical national endeavour,” he said.

“In a more dangerous and contested world, the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever. And nuclear delivers cheaper, cleaner home-grown energy for consumers.

“That’s why we are investing in Barrow, the home of UK submarines, and in the jobs and skills of the future in the thriving British nuclear industry.

“Today we usher in the next generation of our nuclear enterprise, which will keep us safe, keep our energy secure, and keep our bills down for good.”

The announcement comes as the defence nuclear enterprise command paper – which gives more detail on the update to the UK’s nuclear deterrent – is laid in parliament on Monday.

There’s been unease among some Tories over the government’s decision not to increase military spending.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has warned the UK is in a “pre-war world” and admitted he wants a “bigger budget”.

Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan and security minister Tom Tugendhat also wrote an article this month calling for a “much greater pace” of investment in light of the threat from countries such as Russia.

Former armed service chiefs have echoed the calls.

There was no new defence money in the budget, but the chancellor said spending was greater than the 2% NATO target and would increase to 2.5% “as soon as economic conditions allow”.

The first £20m of government money given to the Barrow Transformation Fund will be used for projects including finishing a bypass on A595 and “supporting people towards work”, Downing Street added.


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