MoD unlikely target for Tory cuts

By Alex Stevenson

An incoming Conservative government would slash civilian staff at the Ministry of Defence, potentially by as much as a quarter.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox made the announcement in his keynote speech to the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

“When Frederick Duke of York was preparing for the Napoleonic threat between 1792 and 1804, he increased the size of the Army from 50,000 to 500,000 – and he did it with 38 staff in Horse Guards,” he said.

“Now we have 99,000 in the Army and 85,000 civilians in the MoD. Some things are going to have to change and believe me, they will.”

Despite the planned cuts Dr Fox promised to carry out a strategic defence review immediately on coming to office. Further reviews would take place every four to five years, he said, “to bring much-needed stability and predictability to both our armed forces and the defence industry which supplies them”.

On Afghanistan, Dr Fox criticised Labour’s inability to define strategy as an “appalling failure that risks confusing the public and diminishing support for the mission”.

He made clear that a failed state was unacceptable as it would provide an opportunity for international terrorists to plan and launch attacks against Britain.

Abandoning Afghanistan would be “a shot in the arm for every jihadist around the world,” Dr Fox added.

The shadow defence secretary also used his speech to repeat his commitment to Trident.

He pledged the Tory government would never abandon Britain’s nuclear deterrent, saying doing so would be “indefensible” in a world of rogue states developing nuclear weapons.