Aircraft carriers ‘safe’

By staff

George Osborne has indicated Britain’s aircraft carriers will be safe from spending cuts.

His comments followed reports this weekend that the Ministry of Defence’s departmental budget would be cut by less than ten per cent.

Huge attention had been focused on the two Queen Elizabeth II class aircraft carriers during the strategic defence and security review.

Many defence analysts had suggested they were no longer needed as a key part of Britain’s military capabilities.

Now it is being reported that the Army will have to make personnel cuts of around 7,000, while the Joint RAF/Fleet Air Arm force of Harriers may have to be wound up. RAF Tornado jets could also be under threat, but the two aircraft carriers appear to be safe.

Speaking on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Osborne suggested that the aircraft carriers will “live up to their name”.

“It would literally cost us more to cancel the things than to go ahead and build them,” he said.

“In a way it’s a metaphor for everything that went wrong under the Labour government.”

He added that the carriers would be a “vehicle for projecting British power” abroad.

“We have resolved an almost impossible conundrum for these aircraft carriers,” Mr Osborne added.

The government will unveil its national security strategy on Monday before publishing the full details of the strategic defence and security review on Tuesday.

Reductions in the Army would not affect its ability to continue with the mission in Afghanistan, the chancellor insisted.

“People can see we will have an Army of the appropriate size for the task we are asking them to do,” he said.

“What we have come up with is a settlement that first of all absolutely secures the funding for the troops in Afghanistan.

“But second, we make sure we are buying the right equipment and having the right forward thinking about how Britain is going to project power over the next couple of decades… not just in terms of military power but in terms of our development assistance to the rest of the world and indeed our foreign policy and diplomatic process.”