Brown retreat on TA training cuts complete

By Alex Stevenson

An intervention against proposed Territorial Army training cuts from No 10 has resulted in another humiliating U-turn for the government.

Gordon Brown spoke to defence secretary Bob Ainsworth and chief of the general staff General Sir David Richards yesterday before agreeing to scrap a proposed £20 million reduction.

Conservatives are hailing the U-turn as a victory for the opposition after David Cameron pressed the prime minister on the issue in prime minister’s questions.

But it is pressure from Mr Brown’s own backbenches which is being attributed to the climbdown.

Former defence secretary John Reid told Sky News: “I felt that this was the wrong decision.

“To the credit of the prime minister the moment people who’ve some experience in these areas brought it to his attention he looked at it himself and decided to reinstate the £20 million.”

Armed forces minister Bill Rammell made a minor concession on the issue on Monday. He told the Commons that £2.5 million of the £20 million cut would be restored, guaranteeing TA members at least one night’s training a month for the current financial year.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox responded by calling the government’s approach a “shambles”. He had argued there was no distinction between pre-deployment training and regular training for TA troops.

With an opposition day debate scheduled for the Commons this afternoon, Mr Brown decided to reject the Army’s proposed cuts after all.