Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox said he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ for the future of Appledore Shipyard.

Appledore ShipyardAppledore Shipyard

His comments come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to revive the UK shipbuilding industry, promising the creation of thousands of jobs over the next decade in an announcement on Thursday (September 12).

Mr Johnson has appointed defence secretary Ben Wallace as Shipbuilding Tsar with a view to looking at ensuring British shipyards are able to compete fairly for UK government contracts.

The announcement came on a 'bittersweet' day for the Appledore yard's ex-workforce, with former owners Babcock selected as the preferred bidder to provide the Government with five Type 31 frigates.

A statement from Mr Cox's office said the MP had been in discussions with senior representatives of a consortium and 'major potential customers' of the yard to give his support to plans to reopen the Appledore facility.

Inside the now-closed Appledore Shipyard. Picture: Raymond GoldsmithInside the now-closed Appledore Shipyard. Picture: Raymond Goldsmith

Mr Cox said: "I am delighted that the Prime Minister has pledged to reinvigorate our shipbuilding industry.

"I want to see our iconic local shipyard, Appledore, benefit from the optimistic vision the PM has outlined today.

"Over the past few months I have been engaged in consistent and vigorous discussions with my cabinet colleagues, key decision makers in Whitehall, overseas customers and the industry, in support of reopening Appledore Shipyard.

"I am cautiously optimistic that with the PM's energetic support for the industry, there will be positive developments in relation to the re-opening of our Shipyard in the very near future."

Former Appledore Shipyard worker and GMB representative Jake McLean said he welcomed the words from Mr Cox and Mr Johnson and hoped they come to fruition.

On the Type 31 announcement, he said: "It's good news as a whole as it is securing jobs in shipbuilding for the time-being.

"How I feel and most of the workers feel is it's a bit of a bittersweet taste. We were going to be a central part to that build and we feel Babcock could have held on for six months, and we could have still been going.

"Even if they mothballed the yard and moved us down to Devonport for a while, we would have had something to look forward to.

"I'll be hoping to hear some good news for Appledore in the future. Geoffrey Cox's comments are promising."