Unions are calling on Geoffrey Cox to use his ‘unique’ position as Attorney General and local MP to save Appledore Shipyard.

GMB and Unite Unions have written to Mr Cox urging him to push for the shipyard to build a Scilly Isles ferry.

Earlier this month the Gazette revealed GMB had written to shipyard operators Babcock about the new ship needed to replace the 41-year-old Scillonian III ferry/

The ship was originally built at Appledore using a £1miillion Government loan.

Now the Appledore Shipbuilders Joint-Union Committee has written to Mr Cox calling on him to back plans for the ferry to be built there.

The letter asks the Attorney General to give Babcock what they need to take on the ferry project – namely an interest free loan to the group behind the ferry and reassurances the work would start soon.

If not, the unions ask the Government to step in and take ownership of the shipyard.

Babcock has announced it will be closing the yard in March, with some 200 jobs at risk.

Matt Roberts, GMB organiser, said: “GMB feels the Scilly Isles plan could be a realistic way to save the shipyard and prevent the devastation its closure will cause to our community.

“As local MP and senior cabinet member – Mr Cox is uniquely placed to help save the shipyard.

“It’s his duty to try everything possible to protect his constituency.

“If the Government can’t give Babcock the assurances the company needs to take this project on, it must step on and take ownership of this historic yard to protect our sovereign shipbuilding capability post-Brexit.”

Mr Cox said: “Since the announcement of the closure I have held numerous discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence about how the operations of the site at Appledore can be maintained.

“In collaboration with the Department for Business, the Ministry of Defence is exploring what could be done to encourage possible interest in new ownership of the yard.

“I am pleased that, following my introduction, Babcock has engaged positively with the Isle of Scilly Steamship Group.

“As I told the landlord of the site in my discussion with him last week, I want to see the proud tradition of shipbuilding on the Torridge continue and will work with and support any interested party that can put forward a serious and workable plan to maintaining operations at Appledore.

“It is not within my gift to order the Government to offer an interest free loan to the Steamship Group but this will form part of my discussions with the relevant Government departments.”