Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP has held up a South Yorkshire steel manufacturer as a “British built success story” as the Challenger tanks they equip with tracks and armour are sent to support Ukraine, and the Royal Navy submarines they help power patrol UK waters.

Mr Healey made the comments on a visit to defence SME William Cook, where he met management, workers and apprentices. He toured the production line for making specialist parts that are critical to the Royal Navy’s submarines and saw the tracks the company makes for the tanks of the British Army and its allies. 14 British Challenger 2 tanks will be sent to Ukraine as part of the latest package of UK support.

Mr Healey also inspected a new-build x-ray inspection facility for civil and naval nuclear products, just part of the £4.5 million William Cook is investing this year at its Sheffield site.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP said that in government, his party would back British defence jobs in South Yorkshire and across the UK to help equip our own Army and continue to send support to Ukraine.

However, official figures show that the Ministry of Defence has slashed spending to defence industry in Yorkshire and The Humber by nearly a quarter in real terms since 2013/14.

Labour has pledged to buy, make and sell more in Britain, which Mr Healey says will “ensure British defence investment is directed first to British business” and that Labour will set a higher bar for decisions to buy abroad.

The provision of Challenger 2 tanks was announced alongside a wider package of artillery, infantry vehicles, ammunition and missiles. Responding to the announcement, Mr Healey said in the Commons on Monday that the package has “Labour’s fullest support”.

The senior Labour MP also told Labour Party Conference last year that under a Labour government, “there will be no change to Britain’s resolve to confront Russia’s aggression and stand with Ukraine”.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP:
“Defence SMEs like William Cook are a British built success story. Their work has supported our armed forces for decades and will now help Ukraine counter Russian aggression.

“Labour sees spending on defence as a force for good for regions like South Yorkshire, strengthening UK security and providing highly skilled, well-paid jobs across our region. But defence investment in the region has fallen under the Conservatives, threatening the jobs and investment that communities like these are built on.

“Labour will ensure British defence investment is directed first to British business as part of our mission to buy, make and sell more in Britain.”

Mr William Cook, Director of William Cook:
“I was pleased to welcome John Healey to our Sheffield factory, introduce him to our workforce and show him the huge investment we are making in the site.

“The William Cook group is proud to play a major role in the British defence industry. Tank tracks from our factory in County Durham keep the British Army moving, while the safety-critical steel castings we make here in Sheffield help power the submarine of the Royal Navy.”