Tory backbenchers pressure Government to save carriers

There is also growing speculation that Tory defence ministers could resign en masse if reductions to the defence budget are too severe or unsustainable.Disquiet among Conservatives over a weakening of the Armed Forces with Treasury enforced cuts of at least 10 per cent of it £37 billion budget are likely to grow this week after key decisions are made at the National Security Council meeting tomorrow (TUE). Chaired by the Prime Minister, the NSC will decide on the shape of the Navy, Army and RAF after putting off the decisions from last week.Defence cuts have come into the spotlight after a letter from the Defence Secretary Liam Fox to David Cameron was leaked to The Daily Telegraph warning that “draconian cuts” would have “grave consequences”.Ahead of the NSC meeting senior Tories have warned that the Treasury’s “impossible financial targets” on defence could lead to resignations from the government.Bernard Jenkin, MP, a former shadow defence minister, said it was very difficult to see the Foreign Secretary’s strategy of expanding Britain’s position as a world player “on a shrinking defence budget”.The NSC will have to decide whether to continue building the two new aircraft carriers that will cost £5 billion.“The carriers are a case in point,” said Mr Jenkin, a former Commons defence committee member. “They are a very significant for a nation. The carriers send a message out that says “don’t mess with us”. If you scrap the carriers it would signal strategic retreat.”
A ministerial aide, who asked to remain anonymous, said he could not see a Tory government “tearing into cuts that will mean Britain cannot defence itself”.

“I simply cannot believe it will get to the stage where cuts to defence are so deep that people will be forced to resign.”

He added the defence review was “skewed” and being rushed through.“Our first duty its security of people and it will be incredibly dangerous, especially after the mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan, if a Tory government left us wide open.There are reports that three defence minister, Peter Luff, Gerald Howarth and Andrew Robotham, might walk out of the Ministry of Defence in an alleged “political suicide pact” if the Treasury demands crippling reductions to the Armed Forces.Peter Luff, the Equipment Minister, told this newspaper: “Politicians never threaten to resign. They either do or they don’t.”He added that did not know where the speculation for resignations had come from – Telegraph