Armed forces will be unable to cope after budget cuts, say MPs

The MPs have rejected Mr Cameron's contention that the armed forces could cope with a 'full spectrum' of operations

The armed forces are in crisis and Britain's security could be put at risk because the Government's spending squeeze has left them struggling to cope with the demands upon them, David Cameron is being warned today.

The Commons Defence Select Committee has delivered a scathing rebuke to the Prime Minister's insistence that the country will still be able to mount a "full spectrum" of military operations once the spending cuts are complete. The criticism follows this week's disclosure in The Independent that some UK personnel will have to undertake year-long tours of duty in Afghanistan.

In a bluntly worded report, the committee bemoaned the decisions to scrap the RAF's Nimrod surveillance aircraft and the Ark Royal aircraft carrier. Last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set out plans to cut the Army's strength by 7,000 and the size of the Royal Navy and the RAF by 5,000 each. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for Defence, has said spending would rise by 1 per cent above inflation a year after 2015 to prepare for a new-look armed forces by 2020.

But the committee, chaired by the senior Tory MP James Arbuthnot, cast doubt over the Government's entire strategy, warning it was "in danger of becoming a wish list that fails to make the hard choices necessary to ensure the nation's security".

The MPs said: "We are not convinced... that from 2015 the armed forces will maintain the capability to undertake all that is being asked of them." They pointed to "mounting concern" within the armed forces – heavily engaged in operations in Afghanistan and Libya – that they are already below strength.

The committee gave warning that the cuts would undermine Britain's military firepower, its contribution to Nato and the country's standing on the world stage.

"The Government appears to believe the UK can maintain its influence while reducing spending, not just in the area of defence, but also at the Foreign Office. We do not agree," the MPs said. "We are concerned the impact of defence cuts on the UK's defence commitments and role within Nato and other strategic alliances does not appear to have been fully addressed."

The MPs did, however, agree with military commanders who rejected Mr Cameron's argument that Britain was ready for a "full spectrum" of challenges in partnership with nations such as France.

The MPs said: "The committee is not convinced that this aspiration can be achieved by co-operation with our allies given the challenges of aligning political with operational needs."

The enemy within

The damning picture of the Armed Forces could not have come from a more True Blue source. The committee's chairman, James Arbuthnot, has a background that once epitomised Tory breeding. The son of a baronet, he was head boy at Eton College before reading law at Trinity Cambridge and becoming a barrister.

Mr Arbuthnot has been an MP for 24 years. Such was his reputation for loyalty that he was made the Tory Chief Whip after serving as a Defence Minister.

But Mr Cameron will be reminded today that his fellow Old Etonian puts loyalty to country above party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recognised as one of the fastes...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor