By Paul Sweeney, Labour & Co-operative MP for Glasgow North East and Shadow Scotland Minister

THE arrival of Donald Trump in London last week brought into sharp focus his “America First” doctrine, yet when it comes to protecting British shipbuilding jobs the Tories are backing an unofficial policy of “Korea first”.

Last week I spoke in a debate led by my Labour colleague, Ged Killen, about the future of the Scottish Defence industry. There were clear calls for Government to do more to support Scotland’s shipyards. As a former shipbuilder, I’ve been very clear on my views about the foolish, dogmatic decision to put the Fleet Solid Support ships out to international tender. At a time when British shipyards are facing severe downsizing and closures, the Tory Government is being incredibly short-sighted.

This approach, which will in all likelihood result in Korean shipbuilders winning the tender, flies in the face of Tory promises about promoting UK prosperity. The GMB estimates the contract would return about £285million to the Exchequer in taxes, national insurance and lower social security payments, not to mention the multiplier effect for companies involved in supplying up to 80 per cent of the materials and equipment to build the ships.

We must see the decision to tender internationally for what it is, a political choice not to support UK shipbuilding based on a flawed understanding of economics.

Given the inconsistent procurement cycle for ships and in the laissez-faire context of the Government not being willing to support our shipyards, we must look at how we can ensure that the proud history of Scottish maritime engineering is not lost.

Scotland is a place that the state should be increasingly looking to invest and innovate in throughout the supply chain, including with smaller, family-owned supply chain companies like MacTaggart Scott in Midlothian, which has been at the forefront of naval engineering since 1898. The potential is huge.

At present the lion’s share of Minstry of Defence spending with Scottish industry goes on shipbuilding and repairs – over £900 million of the £1.592 billion it spent in Scotland in 2016-17. There is so much more opportunity to expand the scale of this investment.

We want to see a vote of confidence in Scotland from the Government by investing the defence pound there and encouraging foreign companies looking to maximise UK content to do the same.

Defence spending should be used to boost local economies all across the UK. The jobs supported by the sector are often highly skilled and well paid, and that is why Labour has committed to publish a Defence Industrial Strategy in government to secure the future for workers and industry.

A thriving defence industry can boost the supply chain in Scotland. Allied Vehicles, one of our largest automotive companies is located in my constituency and there are clear links that could be forged between civilian manufacturing and the defence industry.

Ambitious start-ups like Skyrora are harnessing British rocket technology, once thought lost forever in the 1970s, to give the country a leading position for launching the next generation of satellites, built by companies like Clyde Space in Glasgow, into polar orbits from the north of Scotland. But their ambition is not matched by appropriate bandwidth of Government support.

I’m confident in the skills, entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic across Scotland, but we need to capitalise on that to achieve truly world-class performance. We must look to the future, inspired by our heritage.

The Government’s talk of UK prosperity must be more than just words. To make it meaningful, it must be a national mission, underpinned by investing the defence pound here.