SITTING round a table in the Prime Minister’s Downing Street office is, of course, quite a special experience.

But, with important discussions in on BAE Systems’ deal to try to sell Warton’s own Eurofighter Typhoon to India, there was no time to think about that.

Along with my colleagues Nigel Evans, Jo Johnson, Priti Patel and Ben Wallace, I was there to urge the PM to do everything he could to support Warton workers, by ensuring the Government leaves no stone unturned in their diplomatic efforts.

A very professional and focused discussion took place and I left feeling confident that, while the French firm Dassault may have the upper hand at present with their Rafale aircraft, no deals have yet been done and this remains a competition.

Germany, part of the four nation consortium who have produced Typhoon, are the lead nation in the India bid, just as we have led the Saudi one.  I believe its vitally important we do everything we can to both offer them our support and, in turn, urge them to maximise what they can do to make the Typhoon attractive to the customer – the Indian Government.

This was one of the main points I tried to put across to the PM who, I must say, displayed a very detailed knowledge of the aircraft itself as well as the ins and outs of the bidding process.

Determined and resolute in his mood, he told us that both himself and British Ministers have made numerous visits to India since the coalition came to power and stressed that excellent diplomatic links were being formed. These will be put to good use in the coming months.

Defence Minister, Gerald Howarth, reiterated that promise when I met with him prior to the Downing Street meeting.

Price, of course, is a key issue and, if reports are to be believed, the French are ahead in that area.

But price alone must not remain the only factor under consideration, I stressed, and we must do all we can to point out the benefits of Typhoon, which experts tell me is the strongest aircraft in its class.

Following today’s meeting, I’m thoroughly reassured about the UK’s commitment. Now it’s up to the four nation consortium to step up their efforts and fight for the deal.

While this is just one of many export possibilities for Typhoon and may not directly impact jobs at Warton, we must strive to maximise the opportunity to promote Fylde’s flagship product




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