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UK PM Sunak at nuclear press conference

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak doing media interviews during a visit to an engineering firm in Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria. The PM has touted a new fund backed by ?20 million in public money to secure the future of the UK's nuclear industry with a package of investment aimed at boosting skills and jobs amid concerns about defence spending. March 25, 2024. Danny Lawson/Pool via REUTERS

UK Commits Over £550 Million to Nuclear Submarines and Energy Projects

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March 25, 2024

By Kit Rees (Bloomberg) UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is committing hundreds of millions of pounds to Britain’s nuclear deterrent and energy infrastructure as part of a “critical national endeavour” to safeguard the industry and protect the country.

The government will invest £353 million ($445 million) in apprenticeships and skills in the defense and civil nuclear sector by 2030. Another £200 million will be invested in Barrow-in-Furness, the town in northwest England that’s home to the UK’s nuclear submarine program, to regenerate the area over the next 10 years.

Downing Street also announced an additional £400 million of private investment to create more than 8,000 career opportunities and help fill the 40,000 new jobs the industry needs. Firms including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce Plc, Babcock International Group and Electricite de France SA are backing the plans, Number 10 said.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps will also lay out the Defense Nuclear Enterprise Command Paper before parliament on Monday, which will set out further actions to modernize the UK’s nuclear submarine capabilities, the government said.

Britain is among the long list of countries seeking to boost defense capabilities and energy security amid escalating geopolitical tensions, with a growing threat from the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt had previously said that defense spending needed to rise “as soon as it is affordable.”

Ahead of a visit to Barrow-in-Furness on Monday, the Prime Minister said in a statement: “In a more dangerous and contested world, the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever. And nuclear delivers cheaper, cleaner home-grown energy for consumers.”

Barrow produces both Dreadnought and Astute submarines and will be key to the construction of the next generation of nuclear-powered submarines, which are expected to be deployed in the 2040s as part of the Aukus security pact with Australia and the US

The £200 million for Barrow-in-Furness will be used to improve transport links, build homes and support local schools and hospitals. 

The Labour opposition said it would “fully back the plans.”

By Kit Rees © 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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