Defence Committee chair accuses Philip Hammond of playing politics over cuts

Posted On: 
21st January 2018

Philip Hammond is allowing the armed forces to shrink in a dangerous pursuit of votes at the next election, the chair of the Defence Select Committee has suggested. 

Philip Hammond is facing calls to scrap planned cuts to defence spending
Credit: 
PA

Dr Julian Lewis said the Chancellor did not believe there were "enough votes in defence" to justify putting more cash in.

The Chancellor has been under pressure from new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over concerns about a shrinking defence budget, but has so far resisted calls for more cash.

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But the Committee Chair told the Sunday Telegraph: “People in the Treasury are insufficiently persuaded that there are enough votes in defence to justify taking away money from other areas even though the Government in power perpetually mouths the slogan ‘defence is the first priority of government’.

"It is not being treated as the first priority of Government. Defence is our national insurance policy, and it is time for the Treasury to pay the premiums.”

“It is often said that the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a the politician thinks of the next election and the statesman thinks of the next generation.”

It comes as the Defence Secretary launched a campaign to rehouse a homeless veteran.

Bob Curry - who helped free 19 hostages in the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege - has faced financial difficulties since leaving the military which have left him without a permanent home.

Mr Williamson told The Sun: “Every hero deserves a home and I was shocked to hear about Bob Curry.

“Like all veterans and members the armed forces, we owe him for his brave and loyal service to this country. His case needs to be treated as a high priority so a suitable home is found immediately.

“We expect all councils to support troops and veterans, and that they meet their commitments under the Armed Forces Covenant."