THE Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell made an appearance on one of Australia's leading current affairs TV shows to defend the UK's nuclear programme. 

This was after former Australian defence minister Peter Dutton told reporters that based on the advice he was given he thought that the USA would be better able to deliver submarines as part of the AUKUS agreement. 

The AUKUS agreement was set up for the UK and the US to share skills and build vessels to kickstart Australia's nuclear submarine programme.

READ MORE: Number 10 defends submarine quality ahead of AUKUS announcements

Mr Dutton was criticised by the ruling Labour Party for making the comments while there are still ongoing negotiations between the three countries.

And Mr Fell was keen to avoid getting dragged into the debate. 


The Mail: Peter Dutton, leader of the Australian opposition and former defence minister Peter Dutton, leader of the Australian opposition and former defence minister (Image: PA)

He told host Sarah Ferguson on the ABC show 7.30: "I am a relatively junior politician but I know it’s probably not a good idea for me to get involved in the spat between two political parties in another country.

"But the shipyard in Barrow is second to none." 

READ MORE: Peter Dutton says Barrow cannot build AUKUS nuclear programme

Directly responding to Mr Dutton's claims that Barrow does not have the capacity to develop Australia's submarines on top of the existing programme of work, Mr Fell said: "I simply don’t accept that. I don’t particularly want to get into a: 'He said she said'. I know they’ve (the US) struggled to keep up with the regular speed of delivery whereas I think we are now hitting a good pace."

He said that a future partnership with Australia would be 'working hand in glove' and that the UK would be able to share skills and information which would mean Australia could start developing its own submarines. 

He said: "We shouldn’t take our eyes off the fact that this is going to be a massive challenge for Australia to step up and build those skills and build that manufacturing base itself but that’s where we can lean in and help because we have been through a period of massive growth in our shipyard.

"We’ve learned what it takes to get apprenticeship programmes off the ground building those skills that last for years."