London, Great Britain—Conservative MPs have vowed to bring down the government if the British Armed Forces suffer further cuts.
Twenty-five MPs have penned a letter to the new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson threatening to act if the Royal Navy’s only two amphibious assault ships (HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, for which Turkey has expressed interest) or the Royal Marine’s face any cuts on the upcoming Budget.
“We wish to draw your attention to the potential negative impact that any reduction in our amphibious capability would have, and the subsequent consequences on this country’s ability to respond to international events,” wrote the 25 MPs.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond will be revealing his new budget in a much-awaited House of Commons session this Wednesday. The Ministry of Defence is already facing an almost $3 billion hole. And to fill it, the government is reportedly planning to slash the 4,500 strong Royal Marines by 1,000 and sell the two amphibious assault ships.
HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, alongside 1,000 Royal Marines, face the axe (MoD.gov.uk).
The 25 MPs highlight the increasing aggression of Russia and the emerging international threats after years of low-intensity conflicts.
Led by Johnny Mercer, a former Army officer who served with the 29th Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, the MPs have said that “we have drawn up a red line on the strength and capability of our armed forces.”
Interestingly, not all 25 MPs have revealed their names.
“At some stage, you have to stand up for what you believe in, and we have reached that point now. I’m pleased so many of my colleagues agree,” added Mercer, who is also a member of the Commons Defence Committee.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is walking a tight rope. Following the recent General Election that went awry, her parliamentary majority has shrunk to just 13. This means that if a major rebellion happens from her party, the 25 MPs, for example, May’s government will fall.
“We must make it clear to you that as a cohort of MPs representing a large portion of the Government’s vote, we are not prepared to see the degradation of this nation’s amphibious capabilities any further,” wrote the 25 MPs.
The latest manpower review revealed a 3.5%, 5.8%, and 6.3% personnel shortage respectively in the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and Army.
Last week, the former UK Service Chiefs testified in a Commons Defence Committee investigation warned and warned of the danger to UK’s security and international presence in case of further cuts.
And they haven’t been alone in their criticism. Lt. General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe, recently warned that if Britain, “can’t maintain and sustain the level of commitments it’s fulfilling right now, then I think it risks kind of going into different sort of category.”
Despite the severe backlash, the Wednesday Budget doesn’t seem that it will allocate any funds to the Ministry of Defence.
So, what’s worse than having your greatest ally criticizing you and pointing-out your self-imposed weakness?
Featured image courtesy of British Ministry of Defence