British Defense Minister Tobias Elwood threatens to quit over army budget cuts

November 25, 2017 11:00 pm
British Defense Minister (File photo)
The British defense Minister has threatened to resign if the ministry goes ahead with spending cut plans, under which the army would lose 12,000 soldiers.
Tobias Ellwood, the minister responsible for service personnel and veterans, expressed his “deep discomfort” to his colleagues over the military’s cost-saving measures, which would cut the army’s full-time strength to 70,000 soldiers, The Times reported Saturday.
The cost-cutting proposal that is currently being considered by the Ministry of Defense would reduce the army’s full-time strength to 70,000 soldiers. Other options being considered are delaying an upgrade of tanks and armored vehicles and reducing the number of new Ajax mini-tanks.
The conservative politician implied he would resign if the measures are imposed, the newspaper said.
Citing government sources, The Times said the ministry of defense is “beginning to try and push back” against proposals.
“Right across the Tory party there is anxiety about the impact they would have on ’s ability to defend itself,” the newspaper quoted a source on condition of anonymity.
“There is a need to mobilize every effort to convince the Treasury to wake up to the ­consequences of these cuts,” the source added.
Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson (Photo by Reuters)
A ministry spokesman said Britain has “the biggest defense budget in .”
“In the face of intensifying threats, we are contributing to the cross-government review of national security capabilities and looking at how we best spend the rising defense budget to protect our country,” he said.
Chief of British military capability, General Mark Poffley, told the House of Commons earlier this week that rising costs might force the military to reduce its order of F-35 fighter jets.
The UK has ordered 48 of the jets, and 13 have been delivered to Royal Air Force (RAF) training squadrons based in America so far. The fighter jets, capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, are the only modern warplanes capable of flying from Britain’s two new aircraft carriers— the Queen Elizabeth-class.
The proposed cutbacks in the army, navy and air force have also poses a major headache for the recently appointed Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson. Several conservative MPs wrote a letter to him three weeks ago, warning him that attempts to cut the armed forces will provoke a backbench rebellion significant enough to the defeat of the Government in a Commons vote.
The ministry of defense, however, is not expected to conclude the major review of the proposal for cuts until 2018. 
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