Liam Fox defends Mideast arms sales

Britain should seek to retain a "healthy slice" of the defence market in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said today.



David Cameron has faced criticism for including defence industry representatives in the trade delegation on his tour of the region, amid concerns that British-made equipment could be used to suppress the current wave of popular unrest.



The Foreign Office has already revoked a series of export licences for Libya and Bahrain in the wake of the government crackdowns on protesters in those countries.



Speaking at the Civitas think tank in London, Dr Fox said that such issues should be dealt with on a "case-by-case" basis, depending on how events developed in the countries concerned.



"We have to recognise that countries have a right of self-defence and not all of them have a defence industry so they will always buy externally," he said.



"I want to make sure the United Kingdom - within the limits that we set ourselves ethically on defence exports - is getting a healthy slice of that.



"There are a great deal of unknowns still out there and we will have to look at things on a case-by-case basis."



Dr Fox also emphasised the importance of the assistance of countries in the Gulf region in getting supplies through to British forces fighting in Afghanistan.



"We need to remember that we - with a very long supply line - need partners to ensure success in Afghanistan," he said.



"We have depended a great deal on our partners in the Gulf and elsewhere in ensuring that we are able to supply and re-supply our armed forces. We need to take that into account in the wider relationships."



The Defence Secretary also played down the prospects of Nato military intervention in Libya, in the wake of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brutal attempts to put down the protests.



While he said that there was a "range of contingencies" that was being looked at, it was was important to recognise the "limitations of our power".



"We have to have a bit of a re-set here with reality and how much influence we can actually have. we can make our views known and we can send signals," he said.







Dr Fox also warned that the armed forces faced further cuts as the Government worked through the plans set out in the strategic defence and security review over the coming years.



"We will face difficult financial choices, I don't in any way shy away from that," he said.



"There is no painless way to cut public spending. The deficit itself is a national security liability and we have to deal with the deficit.



"I would love to perform surgery with an anaesthetic but on this occasion it is just not an option available to me.



"This is a bullet that has to be bitten."



He said he was determined to bring the "mushrooming" equipment costs - which he had inherited from the previous Labour government - under control with the imposition of "real budgetary discipline" in the Ministry of Defence.



If major programmes run over budget or behind schedule, he said that the personnel concerned would be summoned before a new review board - which he will chair - to be held to account.



In addition, the review board will publish quarterly lists of "projects of concern" in order to put pressure on the shareholders of the firms involved to take action.



"Where projects are falling behind schedule or budget we must take immediate remedial measures," he said.



"I want shareholders to see where projects are under-performing so that they can bring market discipline to substandard management where required."

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

SCO Supervisor Electrical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client based in the Midlands is looki...

Ecommerce Executive

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Ecommerce Executive Working with an...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices