UK politicians express alarm amid reports defense contractor BAE will slash jobs at shipyards

British politicians are expressing alarm over the possibility that hundreds of jobs could be cut at three shipyards.

Defense contractor BAE has been studying the fate of shipyards at Portsmouth in England and Govan and Scotstoun in Scotland. The company did not comment on reports it would stop shipbuilding at Portsmouth and cut jobs at the other two.

The cuts will have political ramifications amid a 2014 Scottish independence vote. Critics charge Scottish shipyards will get preferential treatment at the expense of the English one.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a local government leader, told the BBC on Wednesday that closing the Portsmouth shipyard raises the prospect no advanced warships would be built in England.

Ships have been built in Portsmouth for hundreds of years, since Britain first became a naval power.