Theresa May puts defence cuts on hold for new spending review
Theresa May has put a fresh round of military cuts on ice in a move that is being seen as a victory for Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister had ordered a new review into how a £20bn black hole in the defence budget can be plugged.
And she agreed to take spending for the forces out of a security capability review due to report back in the Spring.
Mr Williamson had been locked in a battle with Chancellor Philip Hammond for a boost to military spending amid fears troop numbers could be cut by some 14,000.
Tory MP and ex-army officer Johnny Mercer said: “When I started this I wanted to make it not possible for Government to reduce the countries military capability or spending any further. We have achieved that.
“Now I want to see a positive and modern vision of what the UK Armed Forces are for.
“I’m sick of the negative narrative from many quarters on Defence; time for Government to seize the agenda and lay out a vision for UK Defence.”
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said “further work is needed in order to modernise defence” and deliver equipment “in a sustainable and affordable way”.
But Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith urged the Government not to “kick the difficult decisions facing the defence budget into the long grass”.
She said: “The true test of any defence review will be whether it delivers real investment in our nation’s defences and the resources that our Armed Forces so badly need.”
It comes after head of the armed forces Nick Carter issued a rare plea for more funding to prevent the ability of the UK forces being “eroded”.
His intervention was followed by a demand from ex-defence secretary Michael Fallon for an immediate £1bn cash boost to the military and a hike in its annual budget.