Philip Hammond 'deluded' amid row over troop numbers

Posted On: 
5th December 2017

Philip Hammond was last night branded “delusional” after he reportedly argued the army could be cut to just 50,000 troops.

A source close to the Chancellor meanwhile lashed out at new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson
PA Images

The Chancellor insisted the forces could operate with fewer numbers in a fiery meeting with ex-defence secretary Michael Fallon and in the presence of Theresa May, according to the Sun.

A campaign to boost or maintain military resources has been fired up amid fears numbers could fall below 78,000.

Gavin Williamson warned Government will face ‘substantial rebellion’ if defence cuts go ahead

Minister threatens to resign over defence cuts

Tory backbenchers threaten rebellion over defence cuts

Mr Hammond reportedly argued the army could still send a division to fight a war with 50,000 troops, but top military figures said the forces would last just six months with that number.

Ex-army officer Johnny Mercer told the paper: “Philip Hammond is deluded if he really believes this.

“We couldn’t even fulfil our Nato commitments with an Army of 50,000, let alone mount a sustained defence of our nation or its dependent territories.

“The Chancellor also appears to have forgotten that reducing the number of our troops by any number would completely breach our election manifesto promise to maintain force levels made only in June.”

New Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will this week lobby the Chancellor to increase the MoD budget by £2bn a year, the Sun adds.

But a source close to Mr Hammond told the paper: “Gavin’s only been at the MoD for two weeks and he’s already gone native.”