Shadow Defence Secretary praises Burnley's Safran as Labour commits to 'British built'

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP visited Burnley aerospace giant Safran Nacelles during a visit to the town on Friday.

Mr Healey praised plans to develop civil and defence aerospace work beyond the Covid-19 pandemic and discussed the challenges facing the industry following the pandemic.

He was given a tour of the site’s assembly line and the site’s centre of excellence in sheet metal and spoke with union representatives.

The site was forced to lay off a third (250) of its staff in 2020 following the collapse of the civil aviation industry caused by the pandemic. Mr Healey said that the site’s strong workforce and commitment to skills demonstrates the site has a long-term future in UK defence and aerospace.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey (centre) at Safran Nacelles in Burnley

The Burnley site had previously done extensive work in the defence sector on the Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado programmes, but the site has largely worked on commercial airline projects in recent years.

In a speech laying out Labour’s principles on defence and security last year, Mr Healey said that investing in the UK defence industry “strengthens our sovereignty and security”.

Labour has committed to a ‘British-built by default’ procurement policy to provide greater protection of jobs in the defence sector and to boost manufacturing within the UK supply chain.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said: “The Ministry of Defence is failing businesses in the North West – despite excellent defence and aerospace hubs in Burnley which have secured local jobs.

"Ministers have overseen a decade of decline in the defence and aerospace industry with 30,000 highly skilled jobs lost since 2010 whilst handing out major defence contracts overseas.

"Our defence and aerospace industries are national assets and Labour is committed to a “British Built by default” approach to defence procurement which would support the growth of the British defence sector, build resilience in our supply chains and create highly skilled, well paid jobs in areas like Burnley.”

Labour has been critical of ministers overseeing a “decade of decline” in the UK defence industry since 2010 with 30,000 UK jobs lost whilst ministers hand out major defence contracts overseas. Labour has cited figures from Defence Analysis showing that 31% of the UK’s defence budget goes to US suppliers and this has increased from 10% just five years prior.

Official figures released last week by the Ministry of Defence have revealed that investment by the Government in aerospace industries across the UK has fallen by 49% since 2013/14.

There are over 22,000 jobs in the aerospace sector in the North West.