Evening Standard – 22 January 2018
Tory MPs and peers today lined up to support Britain's Army chief, who warned that the Armed Forces could struggle to respond to threats from countries such as Russia. They piled pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond to boost military spending in a growing Budget row.
In a speech in Whitehall today, General Sir Nick Carter was due to say that Britain’s ability to pre-empt or respond to threats could shrink if the UK does not keep up with its enemies. He was expected to highlight how Russia, in building an increasingly aggressive and expeditionary force, already boasts capabilities the UK would struggle to match.
General Carter is understood to have made his concerns public with the support of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. His comments are being seen as the first stage of the Services’ bid for a review to get more funding. Tom Tugendhat, Conservative chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said:
“I welcome General Carter’s intervention and hope it will be listened to very carefully.”
Tory MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said:
“This suggests that Gavin is prepared to stand up to the Treasury at this crossroads moment.”
Former Armed Forces minister Lord Robathan added that funding cuts had gone “down to the bone”. MP James Gray praised General Carter’s “courage” for speaking out, while fellow Tory MP Crispin Blunt welcomed the chance to have a “properly formed debate” on military funding.
In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, General Carter was due to point to Syria, stressing that the Kremlin has repeatedly demonstrated its long-range strike capability.