Fox will ‘fight MoD’s corner’ once growth returns

By politics.co.uk staff

Defence secretary Liam Fox has pledged a return to departmental tensions with the Treasury as soon as economic growth returns.

He said there had been an "almost complete breakdown between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Treasury" during Labour prime minister Gordon Brown's time in No 10.

This saw the MoD isolated from the rest of Whitehall, leading to a loss of trust which grew as the military's spending commitments rose above its budget.

The "loss of trust" ended when the coalition government entered power and implemented an eight per cent departmental budget cut on the MoD, he suggested in an interview with the Guardian.

"As the economy recovers, we will all go into the usual negotiations with the Treasury," Mr Fox said.

"We will all be fighting our own corner. I do think there has been a shift in Whitehall dynamic. And the MoD is held in better esteem now."

His interview came as the Royal Navy pushes through the first wave of its job cuts, contributing to an overall reduction from 35,000 to 30,000 personnel by 2015.

"The decisions we are making are not easy but they will help to defend the UK, protect our interests overseas and enable us to work effectively with allies and partners to deliver greater security and stability in the wider world," an MoD spokesperson said.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said Mr Fox was the "author", not the "victim" of the cuts currently being pushed through.

"Morale is already low entering into a blame game will only make matters worse. We need solutions not accusations," he commented.

"Savings must of course be made and Labour has recognised that long-standing, systemic faults with the MoD's procurement system were not tackled by successive governments.

"However, the scale of cuts imposed on our armed forces is the choice of this government and this government alone.

But Mr Fox told the Guardian: "Debt is a strategic issue. Countries that cannot produce economic wellbeing cannot defend themselves properly in the long term.

"None of us knows what will happen in the economy in the next decade. But we are setting as good a course as possible without knowing what the weather will be. I am as confident as you can be that the big decisions have been taken."

The MoD announced a memorandum of understanding with not-for-profit organisation ADS and Skills for Security to help increase the availability and quality of training available to those working in the security industry.