Last week, a Sunday Times article reported the ‘worst case scenario’ list of defence cuts for the upcoming defence review.
However Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, People and Veterans said to local media PlymouthLive:
“There will be no cuts. The journalist [for the Sunday Times] was told by the Secretary of State his report was incorrect, but published anyway. The size of the military in Plymouth has grown whilst I have been the MP; I intend for that to continue.”
“Defence chiefs have drawn up plans to slash the army by a quarter and reduce the Royal Marines to a bit part as part of Boris Johnson’s defence and security review. The drastic cuts, which would also close airfields and take helicopters out of service, were drawn up in response to Treasury demands that Whitehall departments map out cuts of 5% or more as part of the government’s comprehensive spending review.”
• Army manpower would fall from 74,000 to 55,000
• The Royal Marines commando brigade would be disbanded, losing its artillery, engineers and landing craft. Royal Navy minesweepers would also face the axe
• The RAF would shut several airbases and shed its fleet of Hercules transport planes
This comes after the UK temporarily suspended the upcoming integrated defence review as the country battled coronavirus.
“The Cabinet Office has informed the Defence Select Committee that work on the Integrated Review has been formally paused across Whitehall.”
“While the Review is paused, the Committee will also look at the Armed Forces’ contribution to fighting coronavirus and the long-term defence and security consequences of the pandemic.”
Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said:
“We welcome this delay of the Integrated Review. There would be no point in conducting an in-depth review of the nation’s defence and security challenges to an artificial deadline, especially at a time when Whitehall is rightly focusing on tackling coronavirus. We look forward to engaging with the Department when the Review restarts, with the added element of the consequences of the pandemic to be considered. We will still report in due course on the Committee’s inquiry into how Government should conduct the Review and hope that this work will inform the process in the future.”
The bulk of the review was due to be completed later this year but is now not expected to start until 2021.