Ex-minister warns over more armed forces cuts

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The armed forces cannot afford any further spending cuts if Britain is to maintain its ability to project military power around the globe, a former defence minister has warned.

Sir Nick Harvey, who lost his job as armed forces minister in last year’s reshuffle, said the forces risked being reduced to little more than a home guard if the defence budget was squeezed any further.

Sir Nick, a Liberal Democrat, said the Royal Navy already had too few warships to carry out all the tasks allotted to it.

He questioned whether the Treasury would come up with the £20 billion needed to replace the Trident submarine fleet which carries Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Downing Street was forced to admit last week that the Ministry of Defence would not be immune from further cuts in the 2015-16 spending review.
“You can cut and cut and cut and cut until there’s nothing left, but you will cease to have coherence and you will cease to have the ability to deploy a worthwhile number in a conflict situation if you take it much further. We’re pretty close to the bone anyway,” Sir Nick said.

“There is a critical mass below which you cannot dip and still make a worthwhile contribution – and we’re not far from it.”