Talks are at ‘an advanced stage’ to build new fishing boats for the Faroe Islands at Appledore shipyard.

The Government's Taskforce dedicated to reopening the yard has met at 10 Downing Street, with Boris Johnson and Geoffrey Cox QC holding 'advanced' negotiations with the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, Bárður á Steig Nielsen.

The meeting was one of Mr Cox's last acts as MP for Torridge and West Devon before parliament was dissolved in advance of the December 12 General Election.

He said 'a potential new owner' had been identified and negotiations were 'moving in the right direction'.

It was the latest in a series of meetings convened by the Taskforce which has been working with Mr Cox to secure new owners and customers for the shipyard following its closure in March.

Mr Cox said: "The Prime Minister has reaffirmed his personal commitment to reopening Appledore and assured the Taskforce that the Government will continue to support the process as we near the final stages.

"I am therefore optimistic that our months of work will soon see the yard reopen, with hundreds of shipbuilding jobs returning to Torridge.

"I am determined to see Appledore back in business and I am pleased to report that today's meeting was a positive step towards securing several years of work for the yard."

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite the Union, responded to Mr Cox's tweet about the meeting with his own.

He said: "Delighted too that you're now behind the yard

Geoffrey Cox! The unions never gave up the fight for Appledore, even while the government walked away.

"As we fight on to get workers' jobs back will you now work with us to bring security to this Devon community?"