AN MP has accused the government of putting jobs at risk by hesitating on an international fighter jet deal.

Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said the Belgian government had shown an interest in replacing its aircraft fleet with between 33 and 55 F-35 stealth jets, which are partly built by BAE in East Lancashire.

With each F-35 costing around £49.5 million, the deal would be worth between £1.73bn and £2.7bn.

Mr Jones said: “The government has publicly stated that they have no plans to meet with any Belgian counterparts. I believe this is wrong and bad for Lancashire — the UK’s defence manufacturing heartland.

“This laid back attitude to defence export risks us missing out on thousands of jobs across Lancashire, millions in investment and turnover, as well as the high-tech skills and training which accompany this kind of manufacturing.

“The government should be knocking on the door of every responsible Belgian official, doing everything they possibly can to secure a contract and the procurement of F-35s for the Belgian air force.”