There’s a very interesting blog by Douglas Fraser on the BBC website today, pointing out exactly how vague and non-committal yesterday’s “announcement” by UK defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon regarding the long-awaited order of a reduced number of Type 26 frigates for the BAE shipyards in Govan was.
It might explain this extraordinary interview Fallon (alongside a very bad-tempered and unnamed PR goon), gave to Bernard Ponsonby on the evening’s STV News.
What actually happened yesterday was the removal of the threat of blackmail against a Yes vote that had been made against the yards in 2014, and endlessly exploited by the No campaign. The UK government stalled desperately to keep the orders as a bargaining chip in the indyref, not anticipating the prospect of a second one.
But they can’t be delayed forever, and once the orders are in place any possibility of cancelling them is effectively at an end, for a whole slew of mainly extremely obvious reasons. After Fallon had scurried away from him in fear, Ponsonby revealed what the Secretary of State had tried to avoid admitting:
“BAE confirmed to STV News that there is nothing in the contract that would prevent work continuing on the Clyde in the event of a Yes vote in another referendum.”
But Fallon’s toe-curling evasiveness, which finally saw him reduced to hiding behind the skirts of a sour-faced PR woman, had already made that fact clearer than any straight answer could ever have done.