This article was first published in the Commentator on 21 Feb 2019
Given the North West’s military and naval heritage, and the recent terror attacks on Manchester, MEP Steven Woolfe argues it has done a disservice to the people of the North West in not recognising the region’s military commitment in the naming of its eight new Royal Navy frigates. He urges readers to back his petition here.
Comradeship, national duty and military service are at the heart of our regional heritage here in the North West. Whether it be ‘going over the top’ in the trenches of the Great War, storming the landing grounds at Normandy, or combatting terrorism in the barren mountains of Afghanistan, the North West has never faltered from its duty to defend Britain, her values and our collective freedom. This remains so today with the North West accounting for nearly one-third of those serving in Britain’s armed forces, making it the single largest regional contributor in terms of recruitment.
In return for this ongoing sacrifice the people of the North West ask for no special dispensation. No exemptions. No special favours. But they do ask that their commitment be acknowledged. It’s unacceptable therefore that in the naming of its eight new city class frigates due to be built for the Royal Navy the Government has failed in its duty.
Out of the eight ships named, not one represents the North West of England or Manchester itself. The eight Type 26 anti-submarine frigates have been given the working names HMS Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and London.
The exclusion by the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, of either of the North West’s two largest cities, Manchester and Liverpool, has caused considerable disappointment across the North West, but particularly in Manchester, which has a proud history of contributing naval ratings and officers. But the naming of the vessels brings with it added poignance in light of the recent terrorist attack on Manchester, which killed 22 and injured 800.