New naval warships could still be built in Scotland even if it leaves the UK, the country's Deputy First Minister has insisted.
Nicola Sturgeon rebuffed suggestions that a vote for independence in next year's independence referendum would mean shipyards on the Clyde in Glasgow would lose out on work to build Type 26 warships.
BAE yesterday announced 1,775 jobs are to go across the UK, with hundreds of jobs to be lost in Scotland at the yards at Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow as well as Rosyth in Fife, but work on the new Type 26 vessels has been earmarked for the Glasgow yards, giving workers there a vital lifeline.
UK government ministers have hinted this work could go elsewhere if Scots vote Yes to independence next September – Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said if that was the case, the UK would not want the work to go to Scotland and Portsmouth could be "well placed" for the contract.
But Sturgeon insisted the Clyde was the "best place" for the new ships to be built.
She told BBC Radio Scotland: "The Type 26, assuming MoD does decide to go ahead, these ships will be built on the Clyde because, as BAE said yesterday and the Defence Secretary said yesterday, it is the best place to build them, because of the investment we've seen in these yards, because of the skill mix and because of the value for money."
Speaking on the 'Good Morning Scotland' programme, she said: "We are talking about a UK government that has put a military contract in Korea. It really does underline how preposterous it is that a UK government having an arrangement with Scotland would be a perfectly credible and sensible thing to do."
Carmichael told the BBC yesterday: ''If Scotland is no longer part of the country, then it's difficult to see how this work will go to Scotland.''
And Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: ''The UK has never outside of the two world wars built complex warships outside the UK."
He added: "'I see no reason to expect that the UK would want to change from the position that we will build complex warships in the UK for reasons of maintaining sovereign capability in the future.''
But Sturgeon said that as well as the contract the Ministry of Defence had placed for military vessels to be built in Korea, the Royal Navy leased ships from Norway.
She added: "The practical point is Philip Hammond and BAE said very clearly yesterday that the Clyde was the value for money option."
Sturgeon said BAE’s "regrettable decision" to end shipbuilding at Portsmouth meant that "there will be nowhere else in the UK geared up and viable" to build the Type 26 warships than the Clyde yards.
She also said it was "regrettable that so quickly after such a large announcement about job losses yesterday we saw this political game playing".
She said: "The bigger point, regardless of the independence referendum outcome, is how we secure the long-term future of our shipyards. Because if we don't think about it, Type 26 notwithstanding, a few years from now we're going to be here again. We have to think about how we secure the future for the longer term."
She said yesterday's job losses were a "devastating blow to the shipbuilding industry" and represented a "further downsizing" of the sector.
"So while there is relief in Scotland that Govan shipyard is not closing, I also detect a realisation that we have to think longer term about the security and sustainability of our shipbuilding industry," she said. "We can have a sustainable shipbuilding industry, but it can't for the long-term be solely dependent on naval contracts."